By Jordan Darling, Editor-in-Chief
What the fall semester in 2020 will look like at this campus is anybody’s guess right now.
Will, there be a limited opening with smaller class sizes to maintain social distancing protocol; will everything be online; will there be a hybrid?Who knows?
But the person who will know first is CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham, who digitally sat for an interview with the Bulletin on April 30 before opening up to the greater campus during a town hall meeting yesterday, in which students, staff, and faculty virtually lined up to air their concerns, offer suggestions, or to just seek information about what the new normal will look like.
In the town hall, campus administration presented three options for campus operations in the Fall: in person instruction, virtual instruction, or a hybrid of the two that would have Toros returning to campus midway through the semester.
There were concerns about safety and mixed instruction from students and faculty.
“One size doesn’t fit all [and we have to] be open to the idea of blended learning,” Raul Guzman director of the OSCHA Training Institute at CSUDH said. “90 percent online 10 percent come in a controlled environment.”
Classes switched to an online format mid-March and some students and faculty struggled to adjust to the teaching platform and some found their niche. But the challenges of online instruction have caused concern for many students.
[There is a] concern for students that have disabilities,” Caroline Lee a CSUDH student said. “What efforts are being made for students going forward? Virtual [instruction is] harder… Emails [are] disruptive, [professors might] not [be] getting them. [You] can’t forget the disabled student census.” Parham said that the administration would keep everyone’s thoughts in mind moving forward. The decision whether to re-open the campus is complicated by the fact the university must factor into any decision any information and guidance from the Los Angeles County health department as well as the state and federal government.
Students have questioned what the university plans to do about tuition in the upcoming semester, particularly that if classes are offered only online would tuition be dropped due to the quality of education being changed. Parham said that he highly doubted that the tuition would change because it is a system-wide decision but some of the campus fees like parking and housing have been refunded and they would probably be changed if the university transfers to online courses.
Parham also mentioned that students could receive some money through an alternative source. The CARES Act that Congress passed in March allocated $14 billion to the higher education sector with the stipulation that 50 percent of the money t would go towards immediate relief for students and the other 50 percent would cover COVID-19 related costs on campuses.
Students who applied for FAFSA should start seeing the money pop up in their pending financial aid in their student portals. Unfortunately, international and undocumented students do not qualify for federal funding and the university is working to secure funding for those students.
Vice President of Student Affairs William Franklin made it clear that the university was working to ensure that students would have access to basic needs including a potential delivery service for students who are extremely food insecure.
As far as state funding is concerned, the administration can only guess as they wait for Gov. Gavin Newsom to submit the budget. Because tax season has been pushed back to July 1 the state will not know its budget until later in the summer.
Parham said that the university is preparing for multiple scenarios including budget cuts and that there are no definite answers as of now.