Op-Ed, Opinion

OP-ED: The issue of the University line

Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author(s).

Ezra Bale is a senator in the Boston University Student Government.

As reported by The Daily Free Press, the Boston University Student Senate has ratified a resolution in favor of reinstating a Credit-No Credit grading policy. My teammates and I thought it would be prudent to get the support of both the college deans and the Faculty Council before approaching the provost.

Sen. Richard Segalman reached out to his College of General Studies Dean Natalie McKnight. Apparently, she has been in talks with Provost Jean Morrison about this issue for some time — at every turn, she has been told no. The Council of Deans had brought up this matter with Morrison, and the provost sent them this email.

On Nov. 2 we were informed by Dean McKnight that she couldn’t officially back the cause and we could expect similar results from other deans and faculty members. That same night I reported these findings to the Senate and stated my dissatisfaction with them as well as my outlook on this issue. I echo that here in this writing.

In the majority of my recent StuGov related meetings, we’ve discussed the Credit-No Credit initiative, the University’s response to COVID-19 and its handling of students and the Learn from Anywhere model. 

In every conversation I’ve had surrounding this issue, the consensus has been the same: we were deceived by the promises of LfA, it hasn’t lived up to expectations and due to the financial circumstances of many students — myself included — we have been forced to utilize it under the threat of being unable to pursue our prized and precious BU education. 

Developing studies can confirm this sentiment, but you can also look at any BU student communities on social media and find students saying the same thing.

Professors are struggling as much as we are, and it’s inherently evident in many in-person classrooms that professors have not received the training BU said it would give them to operate all the equipment installed for LfA to function.

With this in mind, there are professors who have spoken to their students about LfA and have bemoaned its flaws. Administrators like McKnight, according to a Zoom meeting with Segalman, “support us in the background,” but cannot speak up because of the grip the administration at large has upon them. 

I’ve been using an expression from global politics to describe what we’re seeing — we are witnessing a “holding of the line” where the deans and faculty are unwilling to stand and give support to students because of the threats from the University at large.

At its core, the University is a business, and we, the students, are funding it. If this is meant to be a business or institution dedicated to education and the betterment of its students, then the inaction of our deans and faculty is nigh on a breach of contract for the services we pay them for. 

It’s disappointing and disheartening they wouldn’t take a stand for us if they truly believe in something that would support our betterment. To the deans and faculty of BU who support our cause, but remain silent: I am disappointed in you, but I understand where you’re coming from.

I’m not giving up on this or any other initiative my fellow senators and I are pursuing. On precedent alone, the University has respected and gone through with Senate-driven initiatives. Now more than ever, when a quarter of the student population put us in office, the University is all the more obligated to negotiate with us.

With that in mind, when the day comes that we sit at the table with the administration, with all our research and proposals in hand, I encourage them to have an open mind and to be willing to discuss these matters with us. Not merely just “holding the party line” and offering us essentially meaningless resources, but actually being willing to engage in conversation.

To students and senators alike, don’t stop fighting. We owe it to ourselves and our peers to strive forward. I encourage you to speak to your classmates, your professors and your deans, and to encourage them to speak up — not just on Credit-No Credit, but in all the places where the line is toed.

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