ITHACA, N.Y. –– After Ithaca College announced this week that they would be moving to online-only instruction for the fall semester, many members of the campus community who were left out of the decision making process are airing their concerns on what the impacts will be of having to adapt to the college’s new plans in a short amount of time.
The announcement was made via email on Tuesday –– just one week after the college released a reopening plan for a hybrid model that would see students on campus as early as the end of August. This change of plans comes three weeks before the semester is set to begin on September 8.
Megan Graham, co-chair of the Contingent Faculty Union at Ithaca College, said that while the decision is the safest route, the college’s process was flawed.
“I’ve been saying for months that the only ethical mode of instruction for the fall is remote-only. I think this is absolutely the correct decision to have made in May,” Graham said. “The fact that they’re making it now means that there’s going to be a whole bunch of students who are left housing insecure.”
Graham argued that, if the college had made this decision earlier, they could have made sure students were better-equipped for remote learning.
“If we’d been planning for it since May, then we would have things set up where it’s like, ‘Okay, we’ve talked to all the students and staff and faculty and we’ve found out who needs to have a loaner laptop. We’ve figured out which students will need to come to campus because they don’t have a safe situation at home.’ Those are things that we should have been doing for a long time, but I hope that IC is going to pour all the gasoline into those specific concerns right now,” Graham said.
Harleigh Myerovich, a member of Students for Labor Action at Ithaca College, shared similar concerns.
“My hope is that [Ithaca College] continues this more conscientious trajectory by reallocating resources to support students who may not be equipped for an online semester, support faculty in offering their classes online, and provide housing to students for whom on-campus housing is their only option,” Myerovich said.
Myerovich and the co-chairs of IC’s Contingent Faculty Union participated in a forum on IC’s reopening plan, hosted by WRFI, on Aug. 5. Myerovich mentioned during the panel that she doesn’t feel students were given opportunities to voice their preferences for mode of instruction.
Rachel Fomalhaut, co-chair of IC’s Contingent Faculty Union, moreover reiterated that contingent faculty, students, and other members of the college’s community are now left with many more questions than answers with very little time to have them addressed before the semester starts. One of those concerns shared by Fomalhaut was about sick leave during the upcoming semester.
“The entire campus, anybody working at IC should have paid sick leave that would cover somebody getting sick from COVID, and having that long recovery time that we’re hearing is pretty common,” Fomalhaut said. “At Ithaca College, the people who have paid sick leave are the ones who are most secure and have the highest paychecks.”
Ithaca College administration did not responded to a request for further comment, but they do plan on holding a virtual all-staff gathering on Monday, Aug. 24, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.