Along with the rest of the Universities across California, California State University, Bakersfield, is still deciding on what the instructional delivery method will be for the fall semester, leaving students, staff and faculty in limbo.
“We’re all planning for contingency plans,” said CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny in an April 23 interview with The Runner. “And the plans are a range of anywhere from face-to-face – and I will say, it will be a new face-to-face because there will be, I think, conservatism as we really transition back to a new face-to-face for any large institutions like ours. It could be virtual or alternative delivery, like we are offering now, or it could be a hybrid.”
On April 15 Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Dwayne Cantrell sent a memo informing the campus community enrollment had been pushed back from April 20, until May 4.
This decision came after the Advisement Leadership Team at CSUB, submitted a formal recommendation to change the date to give faculty advisors to meet with more students.
California State University, Fullerton staff and faculty held a virtual town hall meeting on April 20 where they discussed plans for fall semester.
Chi-Chung Keung, News Media Services Director and Senior Communications Counsel for CSU Fullerton said in an email the university released a statement saying, “Like every university in America, we are working through the unknowns of the current pandemic as we plan for the Fall 2020 semester. To make sure we are prepared for all variables, but with the goal that we can offer in-person instruction, we are asking our faculty to be prepared to start the semester teaching virtually.”
Fullerton’s plan to consider alternative delivery of instruction into the fall was taken as a definitive decision by students across the CSU system.
However, in an April 21 article by NPR, Pamella Oliver, provost of CSU Fullerton, was quoted saying their plan is to administer instruction virtually unless the situation with the current pandemic changes.
While no decision has been made at CSUB, and plans are only being discussed about what instruction will look like for the fall semester, students, staff and faculty are wondering what the future holds for the campus community and themselves.
“I can foresee that it would be really important for faculty and staff to know, especially if they are caregivers, so if they have children or if they have people that they perhaps need to take care of in the family, you need to be able to make certain arrangements,” said Anna Doty, associate professor in biology at CSUB.
Doty feels it is important for the campus community to know whether the fall semester will be held alternatively. Additionally, students have expressed concerns about coursework being delivered alternatively.
“I feel a lot of our experience comes from being physically in the lab and doing our own work, and so the fact that we are no longer able to do that I feel as though I’m not getting the most out of my education in terms of preparation for a master’s program or some type of doctoral program,” said CSUB biology major Julian Jordan.
David Gove, chair of the California Faculty Association and the mathematics department at CSUB, said the administration seemed committed to keeping all faculty and staff, however this commitment may prove difficult in the future if students who feel like Jordan, or incoming students, do not enroll.
“This is hypothetical – and this isn’t something that’s come up even in my talks with anybody else – but if enrollments go way down, say a whole bunch of students say that they don’t like this delivery and they would rather just hold off on college until this is over, then of course tuition income for the university goes down and I suppose it would be harder to keep everyone on the payroll,” Gove said.
No official plans have been set by any university in California so far, and as plans are being thrown around and discussions are being held, the campus community awaits a decision.
“Decision-making that is happening seems to be happening regionally, which is quite appropriate to the status of this pandemic because regionally, we will all look quite different,” Zelezny said.
If CSUB were to go online for the 2020 fall semester, Zelezny said that she anticipates no changes to tuition or student fees by the CSU System.
Zelezny explained that tuition is set by the CSU System. As she explained the situation, she noted that student fees go beyond service availability.
“Student fees are mandatory fees…that have been approved by students that precede the current student body,” Zelezny said.
CSUB will hold a Board of Trustees meeting on May 12 via Zoom which will be open to the public. The board will discuss many of the challenges CSUB currently faces during this pandemic, as well as discuss the changes soon to come.
Zelezny said that while there are no agenda items regarding tuition and fees scheduled to be discussed at the upcoming meeting, it could be subject to change.
Zelezny also noted that a good indicator of changes to instruction for the fall would be agenda items regarding tuition at future board meetings.
Zelezny described a sense of pride for the students and faculty of CSUB as they navigate the current changes.
“I am so proud our students,” said Zelezny. “Our entire CSUB community is CSUB strong.”