By Radwan Farraj
CUNY’s withdrawal policy continues as classes shift modalities from being mostly online to mostly in-person for the spring, with 70 percent of courses scheduled on campus as of press time.
Unvaccinated students taking in-person or hybrid classes in the spring are expected to be fully vaccinated and upload their vaccination card by Jan. 18, ten days before the semester’s start.
The fall’s withdrawal policy went into effect in early October, as access to CUNY campuses was limited to those who had been fully vaccinated and uploaded their proof of vaccination to CUNYFirst. CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez announced in a university-wide email on Nov. 22 that the policy will extend to the spring 2022 semester.
“I think it was fair, but it also wasn’t fair,” said Nayab Raza, a senior at Brooklyn College. “I think it is fair because it ensures the safety of all students since a lot of us are going to be back in the spring, and it ensures the safety of professors.” However, Raza said that they feel the policy does not consider students enough, especially since withdrawals due to non-vaccination without medical or religious exemptions occurred after the semester’s start.
Professor David Troyansky of Brooklyn College’s History Department explained his experiences during this first semester back in-person to The Vanguard. He noted difficulties with the hybrid modality and the issues some students had with the withdrawal policy. Even though he was only hosting three in-person sessions for his course, there were still students at risk of academic withdrawal.
Troyansky discussed his decision to change the modality of his undergraduate course from hybrid to online. “I spoke with administrators as well. And at a certain point, the college said, in line with the university, that if we’ve been teaching hybrid but we’ll go completely online, then students won’t get caught in this and could stick with this course,” he said.
One BC student, who wanted to be referred to as Jackie, said that she was originally against the suddenness of the vaccine mandate and withdrawal policy. With the presence of a potentially more transmissible Omicron variant that broke headlines recently, the busy holiday season, and return to in-person classes in consideration, she explained, “It is a disservice to everyone if you’re healthy and you’re not getting the vaccine.”
A BC student who wanted to remain anonymous also spoke to The Vanguard regarding the availability of online classes and his concerns about CUNY’s ongoing withdrawal policy. Though he doesn’t think the policy is fair to students, he said, “I think people should get vaccinated if they want to. It’s good to get vaccinated. And the one thing I have to admit is that vaccine mandates work.”
The student also hoped that the university would at least offer more online classes for as long as the pandemic remains, citing both his own experiences with online courses and of fellow students. “I really liked the distance learning…It’s so much more convenient. I don’t need to go back and forth…And honestly, it goes a lot better for me,” he said.