Messages to the Community

Supporting Students Through the End of the Semester

A message from Maggie Koozer, Learning and Academic Affairs; and Michael Schober, Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs

Dear Colleagues, 

‌As student protests in the University Center continue, faculty and students are seeking guidance on whether they can or should move to online teaching if they are teaching in the University Center, have concerns about coming to campus, or are hearing from students who have concerns about coming to campus. This message provides guidance on how faculty can support student learning through the end of the semester. 

‌While we know other universities have decided to move fully online for the rest of the semester, The New School has a long history of activism, and of teaching through and with it. We trust our faculty to make the best decision–on a case by case basis–on how to meet students’ learning needs, particularly when many end-of-semester activities are designed to be in person. 

Faculty who teach in the University Center have a range of options to consider, from requesting a room change to moving some or all activities online. Faculty teaching in other university spaces who are hearing student concerns about coming to campus should employ the normal methods used when supporting students who need to be absent, exercise flexibility where needed, or discuss with their program leadership alternate approaches. Faculty who themselves are concerned about coming to campus should speak with their program leadership about their options.

Part-time faculty should confirm any changes with their college leadership, and clearly communicate next steps with their students. Those who supervise TAs or TFs are responsible for clearly communicating with them, and supporting them appropriately as they navigate this moment.

‌We also recognize that being offered flexibility to adjust their class means that all faculty, both those teaching in the University Center and in other spaces on campus, will need to determine what makes the most sense for themselves and for their students, and will require that they negotiate the divergent needs and desires amongst their students as they do so. We understand that some faculty would prefer to have course delivery approaches mandated centrally; however, because our courses, approaches, and needs are so distinct–and because of our tradition of activism at The New School–we believe it is critical for faculty, and for their college leadership, to be able to make these decisions locally. 

‌As we approach the end of the semester, we also recognize that many programs have the need to deliver on final crits, performances, and capstone events in person; we encourage faculty and program directors to consult with their program leadership to determine the best approach to sustaining these as well. 

Faculty options for supporting students include: allowing students to join in-person classes and activities via Zoom (if the course setup allows); ensuring students have access to course materials and discussions on Canvas; meeting students in a neutral location like a park, with proper notice; requesting a room change if the course is in the University Center; or as a last resort, offering the class via Zoom, recognizing that many students have reported a strong preference for in-person meetings. 

‌If faculty notice that students have stopped attending and stopped submitting coursework, please continue to use Starfish, which can be accessed through Canvas, and all other usual methods to raise concerns around this and other student concerns. 

‌If faculty would like support in coping with their own challenges at this time, please know that the university provides assistance through our Employee Assistance Program for full-time faculty and part-time faculty. If you have any questions about the right next steps or have personal concerns about coming to campus, please reach out to your college leadership or dean’s office.

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