CARBONDALE – Leaders of the unions representing SIUC graduate assistants and tenured and tenure-track faculty called Monday for SIUC to commit to remote learning, teaching, and working this fall semester, with exceptions only for those courses and other university functions that absolutely must take place on campus.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to worsen across the United States, Illinois, southern Illinois, and Jackson County, union leaders said they believe the time has come to put safety first.
Only courses that “absolutely must be” offered on-campus should be offered on-campus,, according to the leaders. Additionally, students should be encouraged to remain off-campus if they have a safe place where they can effectively continue their studies off-campus.
“If we encourage students to congregate in Carbondale, we will not only endanger their health and safety, but that of SIUC instructors and staff, and others in the Carbondale area,” Dave Johnson, president of the SIUC Faculty Association said.
Leaders of both unions also worry that the on-campus experience would not meet students’ expectations, due to the constraints posed by the pandemic. Under the current reopening plan, most courses would be partially or completely online, and campus services and activities would be limited.
The compromised on-campus experience could hurt SIUC’s reputation in the long run, they noted.