SBCC Senate considers changing student-teacher interaction online

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August Lawrence, Associate Editor

City College’s Academic Senate spent the bulk of its Nov. 17 meeting debating actions to be taken on outlining proper online interactions between students and teachers.

The Academic Senate represents staff and faculty in administrative matters. 

“I think we should initiate the conversations today, get to a certain point and come to an understanding as a senate,” Senate President Raeanne Napoleon said. “We can come back to this conversation to move in a forward direction at our next meeting.”

The discussion was in response to a memo the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office sent to schools on June 22 recommending reducing ways a student taking online classes and their teacher can interact, such as not requiring the camera to be on during live Zoom classes. The intention is to not breach the student’s privacy.

“This isn’t a mandate and we don’t have procedural policy over this,” Napoleon said.

The Senate deliberated on what kind of policies City College should implement to address this. 

Representatives brought up ways they had communicated with students in the past, including phone calls, texts and using personal email addresses.

Napoleon said another viable option might be to do nothing and not implement any restrictions because “so much about distance education is changing all the time.”

“As things become more concrete we then implement policy changes,” she said.

Adult High School Program and GED instructor Tricia Mautone said some language in the memo wasn’t clear, such as “must be conducted through district authorized technologies.”

Mautone said in the past she called students directly to remind them of class-related news.

Napoleon clarified the proper interaction with students should be through their school email.

“As I understand, you may not email a student’s non-pipeline account,” Napoleon said. “You cannot call and leave messages unless they give you permission.” 

Napoleon brought up hybrid course models — classes delivered both in person and online — which makes attendance more flexible for students.

Academic Counselor Jennifer Baxton said following these guidelines might be difficult for counselors. Ever since COVID-19, counselors have held appointments through phone calls and Zoom to avoid meeting in person. 

Baxton explained that in order for the counselor to know who they are talking with, “we require the [Zoom] camera to be on.” 

The Senate agreed to hold this issue until the next meeting after Thanksgiving break.

After a month of hearing proposals from different departments from across campus, Napoleon announced City College’s administration approved the hiring of 10 new faculty members. Beginning Friday, Nov. 19, President Napoleon and Anti-racism Hiring Committee Chair Melissa Menendez will meet with department heads to recommend equitable hiring procedures.

“We are expecting all 10 positions to engage in this process,” Napoleon said, “remembering the senate heard this process twice, both times voted unanimously in favor.”

The Academic Senate will reconvene Wednesday, Dec. 1.