September 14, 2020
On the same parent pages that your letter was posted, an article published in the Chicago Tribune by a professor from Notre Dame was shared. How I wished this article by Patrick Griffin had been written by a professor at Alabama! I have attached that article and I hope you will take a minute to read and perhaps you will understand why I wanted this article to written by you.
Please, I beg you, don’t let your students down and don’t let this incredible university down, remember we are The Capstone!
September 14, 2020
Thank you for your note. I respect your point and hope we can find the best solution for the health of everyone involved that will not hurt their education. Sadly, whether the students are on-campus or off, face-to-face or online, this virus has negatively affected student’s ability to enjoy and fully immerse themselves in the “Capstone” experience. I pray a vaccine is developed soon so that we can go back to normal operations in and out of the classroom. I can’t wait until everything goes back to normal.
The overall point of my letter was about not only the health of the now 2,000 plus students who are infected while in Tuscaloosa, but about the more vulnerable populations. These are primarily the 5,000 plus faculty and staff who are potentially being exposed to the virus without proper protection and protocols. We also worry about Tuscaloosans in general, as over 80 percent of students live off-campus. I hope you understand most of the faculty have the best interest of students in mind. My letter to the President, Chancellor, and Board of Trustees focused on the fact that they have been making most of the decisions behind closed doors and without talking to anyone who is in the classroom buildings and dorms with the students day in and day out. This is a public institution and they are making all decisions in secret. Part of what has made UA what it is, and higher education in general, has been this shared governance between faculty and the administration. You’ll find all the best universities with the best faculty have this balance.
My biggest concern now that numbers seem to be going down, is that UA prepare itself for the scheduled end of on-campus classes on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Unless UA spends the money and time to test every student before they go home for Thanksgiving, If they don’t make sure students who test positive at that point quarantine on campus or at home, we can only imagine the type of super-spreader event UA will be responsible for once everyone is back home for Thanksgiving. In addition, students will not show immediate symptoms,
I hope you and other parents consider asking the university to ensure everyone is tested before we scatter for the holidays.
Again, I do thank you for your thoughtful note. I will read the article you attached tonight.
The parent responded this morning:
September 15, 2020
Thank you for your kind reply. I have to admit I was surprised and honestly very impressed that you took the time to response to an email that wasn’t the most kind email you have received I’m sure!
Although we may disagree on certain aspects of how to manage students, faculty and community regarding Covid, I am glad to we agree that students education is a top priority. [….]
I was saddened to hear that the administration is not transparent with the faculty there at Alabama, we as parents feel the same way too. I think an open dialogue between faculty, staff, students, and parents is critical at this time. To be quite honest with you, I’m not really surprised to hear you say that. Us parents feel like we have been left in the dark numerous times and when we push for information, we either get no reply or are reminded that our children are over 18 and they need to handle these matter themselves. However, these [students] don’t have any idea how to handle this complex world of Covid, heck … adults are still trying to figure it out!
I hope the University will insist that every student have a negative test before they return in January, just like they did in August. However, they need to make sure that they don’t allow those who don’t have proof of a negative test back on campus! The numbers are looking good, hospitalizations at DCH are lower now than they were when [students started returning to campus] and most of you incredible professors are working your tails off to give this next generation of bright minds the education their deserve.
I would be remiss if I didn’t apologize to you for assuming you were not thinking about educating your students and only thinking about yourself. I am happy that I sent my first email so that I got to learn more about you.
I am happy I responded to this parent’s email. Through this exchange—or better yet open communication—we both learned important lessons. I learned that parents and alumni are not getting any useful news from the UA and are taking to heart reports that those of us who are questioning UA’s current way of operating are disloyal, anti-education people who just want to “shut it down” at any expense. The letter writer seemed to identify me as a caring professor who wanted to educate in as safe of an environment as possible who is at least as frustrated as they are with the administration’s handling of this event.