In an effort to improve the relationship between instructors and their students, the Academic Senate announced a significant tweak to office hour requirements today.
The change to Administrative Procedure 7214 will make it easier for students to meet their instructors in person, and affects part-time faculty who teach on campus.
“I want to move away from anything that suggests you shouldn’t attempt to have some face-to-face time for our students,” said Academic Senator Priscilla Butler.
Faculty are currently required to offer one hour of office hours per week for every three units they teach. However, the old language was understood by the senate members to mean that if a faculty member lacked a private office, there was no obligation to meet the student in person. Some senators saw this as a disadvantage to students.
The term “office space” was changed so that faculty would instead be required to find appropriate meeting areas to interact with their students, even if it meant a public place on campus. This would mean that anyone who doesn’t teach fully online must meet their students in person.
“I would rather meet with my students in a specified space, even if it’s in the library conference room than have to depend on dealing with them by telephone.” said Academic Senator Kathy O’Connor.
However, some members commented that they thought it would be a disservice to students if office hours were offered in public areas. Concerns were also raised regarding how to include the hours in a course syllabus if they were held in public spaces.
“You’re going to have a place, that’s the point,” stated Academic Senate President Kim Monda. “You’re going to find a place. It may be the lobby of the library, it may be a study room.”
The time and place must be approved by the department chair to prevent vague office hours offered to the students.
The members of the senate hope that the changes to the procedure will encourage student interaction without being inconvenient to instructors.
The next Academic Senate meeting is at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30 in Business Communication Building Room 214.