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Monday December 6th

Student commission seeks student input on planning for spring semester

A student studies on the quad on Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.
Buy Photos UNC is in the midst of hiring a new director of education, community engagement, and belonging. The University has been searching for feedback on possible candidates for this position from staff, faculty, and students.

The Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity created a survey that it shared on Twitter last week to gather student responses about their thoughts and concerns in regard to spring semester.

Information provided will be shared with the Campus and Community Advisory Committee to advise the group’s recommendations to administration for the spring semester.

The questionnaire asked students about the impact that not having sufficient breaks this semester has had on their mental health. It also asked students whether professors were accommodating of their educational needs this semester and if they felt that the student perspective was being considered in University decisions. 

Maya Logan, a junior majoring in quantitative biology, is the vice-chairperson of the commission. 

“We are making sure that more student leaders and people who are not in student-led decisions are at the forefront of these conversations because we see that they are oftentimes left out of those important conversations in regarding how their lives will change due to COVID-19 and the recent decisions of returning in the fall,” Logan said.

She said that these student responses will help inform faculty members about how students are currently feeling.

“We will be using what we receive from the survey to start a greater dialogue and hopefully implement all of these conversations into the spring semester,” Logan said. “Without these student conversations, and without surveys, and being able to see where students are at now, why should we be reconsidering the reopening option without even doing that important step?"

Joel Curran, vice-chancellor of communications, said in a statement via UNC Media Relations that Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz plans to work with the committee, alongside other groups, to better make decisions about spring semester planning, with health and safety as a priority.

“University leaders are taking a detailed and thorough approach to planning, and while there ultimately are a multitude of critical considerations to keep in mind, including the integrity of the academic calendar, nothing will be more important than the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community,” Curran said. 

Many students expressed their thoughts to the commission via Twitter, suggesting what they believed could make the upcoming spring semester better than the fall. 

Grace Stevens, a junior majoring in business administration, said that she felt Twitter was a suitable platform to speak her mind, as she didn’t know any other way to do so.

“I felt the need to share my thoughts on social media, honestly, because I feel like there's no other platform where UNC is listening to us,” Stevens said. 

She said that having a regularly scheduled spring semester would be the best option, that way students could still have breaks built into the academic calendar.

“I think UNC needs to have a regular semester in the spring, just because I don't think they can account for what the spring semester is actually going to look like,” Stevens said. “I believe that we should have a regular semester if we're going to be online, because we do need those breaks.”

Katelyn Campbell, a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of American Studies, also took to Twitter to voice her opinion about the spring semester.

“Often many graduate students feel left out of the decision-making process, particularly because we occupy a dual role often, as teachers and students,” Campbell said. “First, allowing graduate students a greater say in the process, but I also would like to see University leadership make decisions with student health, and including mental health and well-being, more clearly in mind.”

Campbell said that she and other TA’s have become more flexible with students and have made an effort to check in with them over the course of this current semester.

The commission plans to take these varied responses on social media and in the survey to show that this conversation must be student-led.

“Students are the heart of Carolina,” Logan said. “Students should be included in every conversation and making sure that their voices are reflected in the reopening plans.”


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