After a long summer, Brooklyn College has finally entered its fall semester. Students and faculty alike are adapting to a remote form, as classes, college services, and clubs deliver online.
“I’m sure you didn’t expect to be starting the year behind a computing device, but safety must come first,” Ron Jackson, Vice President for Student Affairs, wrote in an email last Tuesday.
Remote classes are being delivered in several different forms. Synchronous classes involve regular meetings on Zoom or Blackboard Collaborative, or synchronously viewed videos of class lectures. Asynchronous classes do not include regular meetings, with most coursework and discussion boards posted on Blackboard. Some classes combine synchronous and asynchronous components.
Only thirteen classes will include in-person qualities, one Earth and Environmental Sciences course, two physics classes, and several film and theatre classes.
While students may be disappointed about the online format, many remain optimistic.
“I was fine with online classes last semester, and I’m sure I’ll be fine this semester,” said BC student Stella Yank. “I’m most worried about getting lazy and procrastinating because I feel like, ‘Hey, I’m at home; there’s no rush to get things done!’ I’ll have to work on correcting that mindset.”
“I’m actually pretty okay with it [the online semester],” said student Yasmine Kehdi. “I think it’s a different way to learn.”
Many of BC’s departments moved their courses online long before the school officially made its July 27th announcement, leaving room to prepare. BC’s Philosophy department decided to stay online before the spring semester had even ended.
“By the time that we made our decision, it seemed pretty clear where the pandemic was going,” said Anna Gotlib, associate professor of Philosophy. “I was, and am, worried about things like commuting, public spaces, and small, cramped classrooms as an unsafe environment for our students, our staff, and ourselves. You have probably seen the consequences that so many colleges and universities who decided to go face-to-face are dealing with now, including growing infections and rapid shut-downs to prevent even further harm to their students, staff, and faculty.”
In an attempt to keep BC’s community thriving, most student organizations are maintaining a presence online. BC’s Undergraduate Student Government Organization has opened a Discord server for students and faculty to communicate. BC Women’s Center recently released a calendar of semester events that includes a virtual Open House on September 15 and a regular virtual meditation workshop.
“Whether on campus or off campus, the Women’s Center is still committed to providing the campus community experience to our students,” the Women’s Center wrote on their Instagram page.
As BC heads into the heart of an unusual semester, its body remains hopeful.
“The key to enjoying online courses, I think, is more conversation and human interaction, even if virtually,” said Professor Gotlib. “We all miss our normal lives, and these classes can be a way that we reach out to each other.”