Friday, April 3, 2020

Open Letter on SEoT to UBC-V's Provost.

Dear Andrew,

I note your memo on SEoT for UBC-V instructors that was relayed via my department.

In that memo is the suggestion that there is valuable data to be collected on the transition to online delivery – emergency remote teaching. There may indeed be data waiting to be harvested, yet this instrument  was not designed to do that task.  

The individual option for instructors that you have provided is problematic. One of my colleagues recently shared their thoughts via a department list serve raising concerns about the implications for a faculty member to not use this term's records – wondering out loud how that would be interpreted and understood in reviews if others did include them.  

The data you are looking for on the transition could have been rolled out in a way that left evaluation of teaching off the table. The technical modification of those forms is not that complicated (or at least that is what I have been told by the technicians previously). 

At this juncture, where so much is in turmoil, so many of us with family, friends, associates affected adversely by the pandemic and it’s spill over effects, it seems that running yet one more evaluation during this time takes on the appearances of an act of unkindness.  As instructors we have been asked, and many of us have taken a lead on encouraging others, to act with compassion. We have made modifications, accommodations, and allowances. We have worked to pay attention to our students' needs. 

For example, in one of my courses where we are reading an ethnography and viewing a film of working in a food processing plant one student explained that they couldn’t get past the first page of the book. They were surprised at their response – I excused all of the subsequent assignments. Another wrote apologies for missing a virtual class from their phone as their parent was being admitted to an emergency room.  Another had given up their rental accommodation because economic uncertainty due to the pandemic and our virtual class fell on their moving day. And on these stories go. In the best times I work out alternative projects or other accommodations, but in this case asking these students to continue to do make-up work strikes me as an act devoid of compassion. The harm caused by continuing the SEoT, however valuable the data may be for you, outweighs any perceived benefit.

I am compelled to urge my own students not to complete these evaluations as I can find no importance in doing them at this time.  Furthermore I encourage my colleagues not to facilitate or support the implementation of SEoT either.

With warm regards,