As the fall semester comes to a close, Brooklyn College will most likely continue remote learning this spring. For now, there are no definite updates to course availability and budget uncertainties. However, the college and student representatives’ push for more virtual student engagement will surely expand in 2021.
Though the spring course enrollment has begun, the Reentry Board Committee is continuing to review proposals for hybrid courses.
“Once decisions are made about hybrid courses, that information will be announced,” said BC spokesperson Richard Pietras. In terms of how much in-person access to hybrid instruction and services will be available for the spring, the administration is closely following the advice of higher-ups and COVID-19 trends.
“The College’s administration is following these metrics closely,” said Carrie Sadovnik, Safety Chair and Director of Environmental Health. “Any decisions moving forward will be based on the latest State, CUNY, and local public health guidance,” she said.
The College’s Reentry Committee will continue restricting in-person access to hybrid courses and faculty who have been approved by the Reentry Review Board.
With regards to the 2021 fiscal year budget, BC is still awaiting specifics from CUNY. As of now, the university is giving BC monthly budget allocations, but it is not clear if this will carry on to the spring.
“Brooklyn College is following guidance from CUNY. Currently, we have a budget for $73.946 million and hopefully will have more clarity in the coming months,” said Alan Gilbert, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration.
In his recap of the latest University Faculty Senate meeting, Douglas Cohen, the Conservatory of Music’s Deputy Director, notified the BC Faculty Council yesterday that NYS is holding 20 percent of their budget statewide, including the state’s financial aid. Cohen notes that this could affect Tuition Assistance Program funding “if the amount cannot be restored.”
To address student needs for the coming spring, Student Affairs will review feedback from their BC Cares surveys. The Division will continue offering access to the Food Pantry and WEB Lab computers by appointment. Ronald Jackson, Vice President for Student Affairs, mentioned that they would determine if the available in-person services will need any revisions based on student feedback.
“Students are suffering from cabin fever and the lack of social interaction with each other,” said Jackson. “We’re noticing that these concerns are impacting their ability to focus on their academics. Therefore, we’re working diligently to collaboratively come up with creative solutions to address those
The BC Library will launch Virtual Study Hall for classmates to study together this spring. Alongside the Student Government and Veterans Student Organization, Student Affairs intends to create more chances for virtual engagement.
“(…)We are trying to stay technologically accessible and modernized so we have those channels for students to reach out to us if they need any help at all,” said Ethan Milich, BC Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President.
USG will continue advocating for student concerns, including internet access, housing, food security, and other necessities. They will also host more virtual events and invite special guests to bolster student spirit.
To help BC students better their handling of digital programs and devices, the USG will also begin publishing short YouTube tutorials on the university’s website that show how to navigate online tools. USG also aims to expand its user outreach in the spring across its social media platforms, including a Discord bot that allows BC subscribers to conveniently access information like course descriptions.
“A lot of students are struggling with basic tools, that with on campus they wouldn’t have the struggle to figure out,” said Aharon Grama, the University Student Senate Vice-Chair for Tech Fee Affairs and USG Chief of Staff.
He stated that some students, including those outside of BC, do not know how to utilize Dropbox, OfficeWork365, and other programs that are often used by the school.
“We need to get them to be more comfortable with the technology because that is what the world is going to,” Grama said. “And forget about COVID; there’s no need to put it inside the equation here.”
This spring, the newly-founded Brooklyn College Cancer Center is scheduled to be inaugurated. Currently, the center has 24 BC faculty members and researchers who aim “to enhance the lives of patients affected by cancer with a special focus on Brooklyn residents,” according to their website.
In the coming weeks, more information regarding the next semester will be released by the administration. For now, students and faculty must consult their emails and BC’s website for updates.