Faculty Senate addresses spring online classes, football program

Classes next semester will be mostly virtual; one professor wants WSU to stop playing football indefinitely

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SCREENSHOT FROM MEETING

Certain classes may be offered in person, although no professors will be required to teach in person.

JENAE LAXSON, Evergreen reporter

WSU will hold most classes remotely next semester, WSU provost said during a Faculty Senate meeting held Thursday afternoon. One professor also made a case for removing football from the athletics department.

Online Classes

Smaller classes will be prioritized for in-person classes as well as classes where students can receive the most benefits being in person, such as labs and studios, said Elizabeth Chilton, WSU provost and executive vice president.

The course schedule will need to be finalized as soon as possible because students need to make plans for housing and meet with advisers, Chilton said. The spring semester schedule may also be changed to allow for a staggered move-in and testing protocol.

“I have been assured that if we begin the semester two weeks later and we forego spring break that students will still be able to meet accreditation,” Chilton said.

Professors teaching in-person classes will also need to make accommodations for students who test positive for COVID-19 in terms of quarantine, she said. 

“No faculty member will be coerced to teach in person,” Chilton said. “This topic is too difficult to decide on as a whole.”

Teaching remote, synchronous classes is “exhausting,” said WSU Spanish professor Vilma Navarro-Daniels. Global Campus does not require synchronous instruction, although WSU Pullman professors are required to offer synchronous instruction.

Synchronous interaction is required for accreditation, Chilton said, although there may be a way for professors to make part of their classes asynchronous next semester.

Football

One professor presented a memorandum from his colleague, James Krueger, regents professor of integrative physiology and neuroscience. The memorandum stated that football is a form of entertainment and is not part of the academic pursuit of WSU’s mission.

“We submit that all employees of the football program be indefinitely furloughed, that WSU remove football from the athletic program, continue to pay for current scholarships, but not initiate new ones, and write position statements expressing the incompatibilities of football with higher education,” said Heiko Jansen, WSU professor of integrative physiology and neuroscience, on behalf of Krueger.

Football can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which causes brain damage, Jansen said. Additionally, players can suffer joint injuries, which can lead to lifelong disabilities.

The WSU Athletics Program is also $100 million in debt, and athletic donations do not cover football scholarships completely, he said. This year, due to COVID-19, WSU will receive no revenue from football.

The memo stated that not playing football will improve WSU’s financial situation, enhance academic programs and prevent harm done to student-athletes for entertainment, Jansen said.