Minji Kang (sophomore) was sent a small brown box filled with pipettes, color dye, gloves and other objects for her organic chemistry class this semester. The chemistry department is one of several departments that have shipped students packages of supplies for their classes, so they can have access to essential resources while attending their classes from home.
According to professor and music department chair David Kasunic, the shift to remote teaching and learning has required professors and administrators to adjust their classrooms accordingly, and in favor of equity. As a result, the music department has sent packages of hardware and software to students who would not otherwise have access.
Kasunic said the department sent a survey to every student enrolled in a music class which asked them specific questions about the hardware and software they had in order to understand the tools students would need to be provided. He said the department knew students would not have the same access to resources at home as they did on campus and developed a program to ensure that students were given the support and equipment they needed to succeed.
“It’s really important for us to have a curriculum that is accessible to all … and so the way we’ve designed it on campus is to make sure that we have the equipment, the licenses with the various technologies that we use the spaces, the instruments, so that students, regardless of their background, can have a meaningful educational experience,” Kasunic said. “We wanted to make sure that we still lived up to our departments and the college’s values of equity, excellence and access.”
In a normal semester, students would have access to the college’s full resources but during remote learning they have limited physical resources to aid in their academic success. Resources and spaces that are typically highly used by students like Bird Studio, lab classrooms and athletic facilities, are currently restricted. Due to distance from campus and the college’s restrictions on visitor access, students can no longer rely on campus buildings.
“In terms of the situation I think they did a pretty good job of getting us all the materials we would need,” Murphy said. “Once I enrolled in my classes for this semester I was definitely concerned about what that was going to look like, but I also did not expect them to send us so much stuff.”
Lab sciences also face difficulties in facilitating remote classes and access to learning tools this semester.
Kang said the contents of the package are safe and non-toxic and include things like gloves, pipettes, color dye and plastic cups. Kang said she received these items in advance of a lab the class is preparing for and will be used to demonstrate principles that students are learning in class and would learn in a real lab setting.
According to Kang, she originally assumed that her labs would be conducted virtually through website programming and she was surprised when she found out that there would be some physical aspects to her class.
“It makes it more fun and engaging because if it’s online you’re just clicking with your mouse and it’s like ‘okay what’s the point’ and kind of boring. But if we get to actually play with the tools I feel like it is going to be more engaging than just staring at a screen watching other people do it,” Kang said.
According to Chaia Wyatt (senior), packages have also been sent out to every enrolled student athlete containing two resistance bands, a jump rope and a letter with messages from the athletic department. Wyatt is a member of the cross country team and a student worker in the athletic department who helped package and mail the shipments. Wyatt said the packages are a way to equalize the equipment athletes have access to and to help enable a sense of care and community even as teams can not be physically together.
“I still get to do some of the exercises I would have been doing with my team and I think a lot of coaches are planning to write out workout plans or do Zoom workouts with the team with the stuff from the care packages,” Wyatt said. “I think it was a nice thing to think about the athletes and know that even though they can’t participate in their sports right now the athletic administration is still thinking of them and misses them.”