• Robinson W. Fulweiler

    Robinson W. Fulweiler is a College of Arts & Sciences professor of earth and environment and of biology; she can be reached at rwf@bu.edu.  Profile

  • Sarah W. Davies

    Sarah W. Davies Profile

  • Anne G. Short Gianotti

    Anne G. Short Gianotti Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 17 comments on POV: University’s Course Guidance for Fall Is “Wishful Thinking” and “Inadequate”

  1. These guidelines are far more realistic than what has been proposed. I’m concerned how our students and faculty are going to manage under the “system” President Brown has imposed (which is really no system at all).

  2. It’s relieving to learn others long for a data-driven strategy during an ongoing pandemic when we don’t know the long-term efficacy of the vaccines, particularly against evolving variants, and are fully aware that vaccinated individuals can catch and transmit the virus to non-vaccinated children and immunocompromised family members. It’s sad, but strangely fitting given what I’ve learned during this pandemic, that it’s part of the opinion column.

  3. Thank you for this commonsense proposal. I’ll just add that the kind of guidelines you propose would also provide additional security to BU’s non-tenure-track faculty, whose primary role is teaching and who may also feel the need to take unnecessary risks to be in class or fear repercussions.

  4. I cannot thank you enough for this article. As a BU student, I feel hugely unsupported with the current guidelines. My anxiety is overflowing by this as well as the lack of acknowledgement/compassion/support as a human being by my professors and my program at BU.

    The lack of humanity and the expectation of needing to perform at peak performance while continuing to go through a global pandemic (and stay healthy when we don’t live in an isolated bubble) is making me question whether I can really manage to continue in school… I say this as a previous 4.0 student now questioning my ability at all due to the weight from the lack of acknowledgement/compassion/support I have felt.

    Where did the empathy and shared humanity from the beginning of the pandemic go? That was the world’s greatest lesson.

    I’m begging any professors reading this to simply acknowledge and frequently vocalize to student’s that you recognize that this is still an incredibly difficult time for many and you are there for support. That goes farther than you could imagine.

    1. As a BU student as well, I second all of this! My anxiety has been so high with how BU’s guidelines seem to assume that the pandemic is over, or that we’ve all moved on, or that the university exists in a bubble. It’s so hard to focus on schoolwork when I’m just anxious about what the semester will bring with the guidelines that are in place right now. I don’t feel like I can afford to get sick or miss class since nothing is in place to deal with the fact that we’re still in a pandemic. It’s very stressful. I am grateful for this article as well.

    2. I completely agree! Glad I am not the only one feeling anxious with these different challenges/lack of clarity during a global pandemic. Professors have given us syllabi as if there is no alternate changes to our lives as if it is pre-covid. They’ve spent an hour and 15 minutes during our first classes talking only about how to perform at your best during this course, what exams and homework we have with absolutely no regard or details for what happens if someone were to test positive for covid? Will we have to miss labs/lecture, how do we take exams? The lack of clarity is extremely disappointing coming from a university who prides themselves on being the most pre-cautionary and understanding of universities.

  5. Thank you very much to my colleagues for writing this sensible proposal. As I said to the Boston Globe, the university should be allowing instructors to *temporarily* teach remotely in a range of circumstances. The present policy, banning use of Zoom for any classes, is disrespectful and uncaring. https://twitter.com/dan_star/status/1431794093609431042?s=20

    I am also concerned that many classrooms are not safe, despite the rhetoric in certain quarters. This morning I taught a 100 student Introduction to Ethics class, and found myself in a situation where I needed to write to my chair and my dean, as follows. This should not be necessary.

    “I taught my first 100 student Introduction to Ethics class this morning, in CAS211, and the CO2 levels were unacceptable. The class was tightly packed with students, as was the one in the same room immediately beforehand. As you know, I have an unvaccinated child at home (I’m not so worried about getting COVID myself, since I’m vaccinated, but I am worried about passing it on to her).

    I attach two photos. The first is a reading of 2600ppm, taken on a model of a CO2 meter commonly used by scientists, and provided by Engineering, which I placed away from people (including myself) at the front of the classroom. It reported a reading of 2600ppm, and never dropped much lower (certainly never below 2000) throughout the class. The second is a device in the wall near the door that the university installed. The readings on that device were lower, but also always over 2000ppm. To provide a sense of what this means: in German school rooms, a reading of below 1000 is referred to as a green light, between 1000 and 2000 is referred to as an amber light, and above 2000 is referred to as a red light. Although the science is complicated, high levels of CO2 over time indicate air flow is not good and when the air flow is not good, COVID spreads more easily. Presumably this is why BU decided to install CO2 monitors in the first place.

    Can something please be done about this before my class on Tuesday morning? Either the class might be moved, or the air flow situation fixed.”

  6. Thank you Professors! I graduated in May 2021 and so I was fortunate that I was able to do my last year fully online, but I’m overwhelmed by anxiety for my friends who have to go back for another year of in-person classes with inadequate guidelines and support.

  7. The administration’s push for fully in-person, all the time, is irresponsible and puts tremendous pressure on faculty and students. They either haven’t thought this out, at all, or they just don’t care.

  8. Thank you so very much for writing this proposal! As a non-tenure track part-time faculty member with fifteen years’ teaching experience, I feel overlooked, under-valued, and disrespected by the original guidance. Teaching is my work and my passion. I work hard at it, and I think I’m pretty good. I worked my butt off last year to become an effective and innovative remote instructor. Now, I’m teaching 17 students crammed into a basement room with no discernible air circulation. There’s not even enough room for them to walk between the desks, and I’m supposed to tell them that we can’t learn or teach remotely? Ever? And if they come down with Covid, they’re mostly on their own? What a joke.

  9. As the parent of a sophomore, I was encouraged to see faculty expressing their concerns. My student felt campus was much safer last year than this year and is actually considering taking a leave of absence as a result.

    I am mystified as to why BU did not continue twice-weekly Covid testing this year until the test results indicated that once-a-week testing would be sufficient. It is foolhardy to reduce the testing frequency while simultaneously re-opening dining halls for eat-in dining, allowing students to gather in large groups, holding classes in packed classrooms, allowing dorm-to-dorm visits, holding super-spreader events like the SPLASH club event today, and so on. The university has “recommended” but is not enforcing twice-weekly testing for select groups (e.g., the unvaccinated, those in Voice Performance). In addition, other obvious groups have not been asked to test more frequently—for example, wind instrument players who are playing in a band/orchestra, or students working in the public schools.

    The authors of the opinion piece accurately used the word “denial” to refer to the University’s Covid coping strategy. Pretending that things are ‘normal’ is not going to make Covid go away. At this summer’s Back-to-BU chats, I repeatedly asked why the University was not going to offer any remote learning options, and my question was ignored. Giving students the option to attend class remotely while living on campus will ensure that they accurately file their symptom attestation reports and will give those who are sick—with Covid or otherwise—a way to keep up with their studies while recovering. Students are much more likely to be honest about their symptoms if they know they will not have to miss classes or activities; accurate reporting will reduce the risk of exposure for everyone.

    I do hope it doesn’t take a crisis, like a massive Covid outbreak or a BU faculty member, staff or student dying of Covid to wake up the administration. Last year BU did a stellar job protecting the employees and students under their care; I can only hope that BU takes stock of the current situation and makes the correct decisions again this year. My student wants to stay—but it’s not worth their health. Wake up, BU!

  10. As a current student at BU, I resonate very much with this article. I’ve been told by my professors to “look for friends” in case we are sick with the virus and cannot attend class. The university must be responsible and give students the resources that they need in order to succeed in these courses instead of placing the majority of the burden on students when it comes to being able to academically excel and the role the virus has in hindering this. It seems as if the university is already moving on from the pandemic when it is clearly still very much present and still going on. I’m thankful that this article helped voice out my concerns on the platform and brought attention to it!

  11. My personal experience with “guidance” at BU has been very poor, so it doesn’t surprise me that they expect students to basically figure it out themselves. I think BU’s general unpreparedness and hyper-focus on outside appearance and prestige rather than actual practical solutions is one of its biggest faults. I think this is particular shown in the email they recently send about needing to maintain COVID compliance and testing over thanksgiving recess. This was completely unreasonable for many students, including myself, and the university provided no clear, easy way to do so. Instead, you’re just expected to somehow figure it out yourself. The reality is though that COVID compliance is almost a complete joke and you never really need to get tested anyway. So all an email like this does is make students who actually follow the guidelines stress and show a front to parents that the school is maintaining is strict stance against COVID. It’s all about appearance and justifying that huge check the president writes himself every year.

  12. I really thought this was a well written article that many students and faculty can relate to. With the Omicron variant looming for next semester, I am curious whether or not BU will change their position. I think for the next semester it is imperative that BU changes their stance. Given that the variant is more contagious, I believe students should be able to to watch lecture from their room if they start feeling sick. It seems BU is strict about its COVID-19 rules in some facets much loose in some areas. For example, if a student misses more than three COVID-19 test they will be sent home for the semester. However, if a student is being diligent about cold and sicknesses they are unable to watch the lecture because it is not recorded.

    I think that BU for next semester should ask students and faculty about their opinions when they are making some of the rules. Altogether, I think what most students want is consistency in the COVID-19 regulations.

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