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Letter to the editor: A call for faculty input into Ohio State’s pandemic policies

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The Ohio State chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) protests on behalf of graduate student housing Dec. 6, 2019. Credit: Courtesy of Pranav Jani

The University’s policies and directions announced in the COVID-19 Response Update Town Hall on January 6 and the President’s email to the campus on Monday, January 10 once again place the University at the intersection of shared governance and public health.

The Ohio State chapter of the American Association of University Professors ( AAUP) endorses the principles and standards of academic decision-making as set forth in the AAUP’s Statement on Government of Colleges and Universities . According to these principles of shared governance, “ the faculty exercises ‘primary responsibility’ for decision-making on academic matters,” including but not limited to “methods of instruction .” This decision-making is particularly important at a time when both instruction and public health collide with the current surge in COVID infections in central Ohio .

In the Town Hall, the administration asked instructors to make accommodations to students who cannot come to class due to a positive COVID test, exposure, or illness, and we of course agree.  We in turn ask the administration to honor faculty decision-making about the safe and effective delivery of instruction for themselves and their families.

The administration’s policies seem to rely on the “reduced severity” of the Omicron strain, especially for students with robust immune systems.  But many faculty and staff are no longer so young or robust.  In this light, we are again asking that the administration honor our decision-making and the public health by allowing instructional staff to exercise our best judgment in how to teach our courses and keep ourselves and our families safe, through January and beyond, based on what we discover in the coming weeks and months about our shared crisis.

In our view, the “on–campus experience” is not the only nor the greatest value in play here.  We appreciate the administration’s concern for and accommodations to students.  There are others here too.

Executive Board, OSU Chapter of AAUP

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