Academic Senate Nervous for Return to Campus

Senate blindsided by unexpected in-person graduation commencement by President Scroggins


Photo courtesy of Mt. SAC

On Thursday, the Academic Senate Executive Board held their regularly scheduled meeting via zoom. Possible strategies for graduation, distanced learning for fall semester and recording lectures were the main topics of discussion.

Earlier this year on Flex Day, Dr. Bill Scroggins announced that the 2021 graduation commencement may be in-person.

Member Chrisato Uyeki said, “I think everyone was surprised that he brought that up.”

“There’s lots of faculty that want to be back on campus teaching but now they’re being told that they can’t,” she said. “But now you’re saying it’s okay for us to come back on campus for this event that is not instructional? What’s the message that this sends as an educational institution?”

Two options have been discussed regarding the commencement happening on June 1. Either the event takes place as a drive-thru as last years did or it happens in-person at 20% capacity, per county law, in the new stadium. At 20% capacity about 2,000 people would be able to attend including the 400 faculty members. Faculty are required to attend.

Faculty Association member Joan Scholars said, “many faculty were worried that they were going to have to be on campus again for graduation. Bill has not brought it up to me at all yet.”

Distanced learning for fall semester was another issue faculty board members were concerned about. Faculty would need to complete the SPOT certification for fall, an online course that teaches you how to use best practices in teaching distance education courses. Dr. Scroggins has proposed that classes should consist of 80% in-person and 20% online contact hours, meaning that most classes would switch to being hybrid to incorporate face to face sessions. Teachers could have the choice of making some classes only in person and some classes online but would have to meet the 80/20 requirement.

Uyeki said, “We cannot expect faculty, again, to just spin on a dime and change instruction modes.”

Many members agreed that these changes would require heavy work loads from faculty to meet demands and that weren’t fair to ask.

Uyeki also mentioned to the senate the concerns shared by faculty at the Board of Trustees meeting that took place the night before.

“We have to continue to push that we make decisions of the mode we offer courses on what’s best for students, what fits the faculty’s abilities and interests in providing the content and also where the students are showing up to sign up,” she said.

Whether or not faculty is allowed to record lectures has yet to be concluded. Faculty discussed the pros and cons of recording, as many students have asked for recorded lectures to go back to during the pandemic. Member Michelle Shears gave a quick explanation of the proceedings going on to come to a conclusion about recordings but made it clear that, for now, its best that professors do not record lectures in order to protect themselves and their students.

A recommendation to update and/or change the current Freedom of Expression AP/BP was passed to the full senate to be voted on. The purpose of this recommendation is to make sure the AP/BP is, “reflective of current practices, reflect the campus mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and are up to date with the latest legal and scholarly positions.”

Recommendations for prefixes for ethnic studies classes in accordance to a change of CSU requirements and proposals for EW and PNP options for summer and fall 2021 were both moved to action-items for the next meeting.

The next full Academic Senate meeting will take place on March 4.