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The Syracuse University branch of the American Association of University Professors released a report last week on students’ feelings about how the university has dealt with COVID-19 during the fall semester.
The report details AAUP’s first student survey, which asked students for their views on various aspects of SU’s COVID-19 response, including masking policies and testing and quarantine protocols. AAUP’s SU department conducted the investigation in October.
The SU chapter of AAUP works to uphold the professional values, norms and economic security of higher education.
The survey received 395 responses, 305 from undergraduate students and 90 from graduate students. Professors shared the survey with each other to collect responses from students.
Jackie Orr, a sociology professor and a general member of SU’s AAUP chapter, said the chapter decided to conduct the survey because no one else was trying to get student experiences and concerns about COVID-19 safety.
Nearly 45% of students surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that the SU was doing a good job of protecting students from contracting COVID-19, and just over 50% of students agreed or strongly agreed agreed with the statement that they were concerned about contracting COVID-19 during the 2021 semester.
Students expressed concern about the lack of enforcement of mask-wearing on campus, confusion over class attendance and missed instruction in isolation or quarantine, and the desire for regular mandatory tests for vaccinated people on campus and clearer communications from SU about current COVID-19 policies and announcements. The comments in the published report were representative examples of the most common student concerns, the report says.
“The protocols are a joke,” one student said in the report. “They let us wear masks in class, but pay for a huge student concert where no one wore masks.”
The student also brought up multiple occasions, such as the alumni weekend and soccer games at the Carrier Dome, where many outside visitors to campus did not wear masks.
“It really does seem like the protocols are performative,” said the student.
They let us wear masks in class, but pay for a huge student concert where no one wore masks.
Chris Johnson, SU’s associate provost for academic affairs, sent a letter to the faculty on Sept. 13. The letter discussed students who missed classes pending test results, showed symptoms or tested positive for the virus. It asked the faculty to do their best to work with students who are absent for such reasons and required the faculty to give the students the opportunity to keep up with the courses if they were absent for an extended period of time.
“I find the lack of offer for students to take online classes when they come in contact is outrageous,” one student responded in the survey. “The dichotomy of don’t come when you’re sick, but when you’re sick, miss class is pretty crazy.”
Orr said 10 people in her class of 50 tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the semester, prompting her to increase the amount of alternative access to course information and materials.
“Hybrid classes are huge work for the faculty, and no one is asking the faculty to do that,” Orr said. “The faculty is voluntarily asked to accede to that request. Some faculties do that and do more work every week so that students who are not in our class for health reasons have access to teaching materials.”
More coverage of SU’s handling of COVID-19:
The survey responses informed AAUP about the university’s recommendations for COVID-19 protocols for the spring of 2022, including:
- Clearer guidance for teachers and students when missing classes due to potential exposure or quarantine;
- Stronger enforcement of masking requirements;
- Consider mandatory masking instead of the current layered system;
- Improved communication on protocols for when a student is contacted or quarantined;
- Consider mandatory testing for vaccinated students, teachers, and staff every seven to 14 days.
About 73% of students agreed or strongly agreed that SU should have mandatory masks for all students and teachers in university buildings, regardless of their vaccination status.
“SU-AAUP urges realistic planning that does not unnecessarily jeopardize student well-being for the implementation of ‘normality’ during an ongoing, unpredictable pandemic,” the report reads. “The health and well-being of SU students requires competent, well-resourced, and effectively communicated procedures for running a residential higher education institution whose primary purpose is student learning and student lives.”
Despite the report’s critiques of the current state of campus COVID-19 policies, 57.62% of students agreed or strongly agreed that SU is communicating well about COVID-19. safety issues and that 54.85% agreed or strongly agreed teachers were helpful and supportive in communicating procedures for missed lessons and access to content due to virus exposure.
Sarah Scalese, senior associate vice president for university communications, said in an email statement that the survey was completed by a small percentage of students in a non-random sample, and therefore cannot be used to measure the feelings of the entire student body. display .
Orr responded to Scalese’s statement, saying the AAUP would welcome a larger survey of students.
In addition, Scalese cited the university’s less than 1% test positivity rate of the random surveillance testing program, as well as continued aggressive public health measures, such as enforcing red-level masking policies, testing wastewater, tracing contacts, and requiring both boosted vaccines as evidence of SU’s effective strategy to deal with the pandemic.
Orr said she sees no correlation between the current test positivity rate and the number of on-campus cases according to SU’s COVID-19 dashboard, which she says is indicative of cases — especially asymptomatic — that may be due to testing protocols and the spread of the virus. on campus.
Published on December 12, 2021 at 21:24
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