Editorial: Where do we go from here?

Bret Belden

Scrambled schedules require adjustments, communication

By TNH Editorial Staff

Library administrators found themselves in some hot water with students and faculty last April when a large dumpster outside of Dimond Library was found filled almost to the brim with old books.

Letters from disgruntled professors and students flooded our inboxes here at TNH simply asking why the books were being thrown away and why the library had not communicated with the community.

Library administrators corrected their lapse in judgment and pledged to maintain better lines of communication with the community it serves. Cole Caviston’s story on page one discussed the most recent case where the library has exercised its communication in such a situation.

Transparency is a critical aspect of any society between the governing body and the community it leads. The library has made its adjustments, but other areas of the university could reevaluate its communication approaches.

Last week, students received a kind email from UNH Facilities and Dining Services outlining the resources available to help students get around campus while the snow has impeded the ease of travel. While some may overlook this message while going through their email, there is some useful information regarding safe transportation and dining hours during the harsh weather.

This aspect of student life is very important, but why have we received no unified explanation for how the academic facet of UNH will adjust to all of these missed days due to the weather? Sure, missing a few days because of the snow can be fun and relaxing, but when we have reached the fourth week of the semester and some classes have met only once, there is clearly an issue.

Are university instructors — professors and lecturers alike — prepared for such circumstances? Some are, maybe even most, but certainly not all. Shuffling multiple syllabi is a challenge, but adjustments must be made. A midterm scheduled for this week either needs to be moved or adjusted. An instructor cannot simply ask students to learn it all from the textbook and come in to take the test. That is not what students pay their tuition for.

Here is some simple math. Residential students pay approximately $570 per credit hour. If a residential student takes a four-credit course that meets four times a week, each class is worth approximately $38 for the spring semester. With four weekdays of curtailed operations, that is $152 forgone in missed classes. That is a minimum dollar amount for students who pay the residential rate, not including the various fees that are snapped onto the tuition bill.

This is not meant to be critical of the instructors, but more so the absence of a unified address from the administration as to how this will be handled.

In scenarios such as these where several classes have been cancelled due to the plundering weather, the use of Blackboard by instructors is critical. The question of whether Blackboard use should be made mandatory for instructors has been brought up and shot down in past years. But in such circumstances where communication outside of class is so important, Blackboard is not just the best mode for keeping your class up to date, but it’s really the only way.

Some will say we are still transitioning into the digital age and that is why some instructors refuse to use such technologies. In reality, we’re no longer dipping our toes into these new technologies. They have been in use for several years.

It’s time we get on the same page, UNH. Hopefully the snow has stopped for the season and we can all get back to class. But in the meantime some course restructuring may be necessary to stay on track and keep things fair for students.