Alana George, Campus Carrier copy editor
Cultural events have undergone a large amount of change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the campus was shut down in the spring, the C.E. credit committee went to work to assist the graduating seniors in getting all of their credits for graduation, as well as the rest of the student body. Now that students are back on campus for the fall, there have been many new regulations implemented to ensure the safety of both students attending the events and the speakers leading them.
William Donnelly, associate professor of English, rhetoric and writing, is the chair of the C.E. credit committee, a position he said was a tough adjustment from volunteering and hosting events, but learning from people with more experience made the transition easier. When almost everyone had to move off campus in the spring, Donnelly said that Berry took the best action it could, the C.E. credit committee included. Associate provost David Slade echoed that sentiment, saying the committee really just had to respond as things happened. Their first priority was developing a plan for graduating seniors, which they successfully did, because according to provost Mary Boyd, no seniors were prevented from graduating due to missing C.E. credits.
Boyd holds an oversight position on the C.E. credit committee; when a senior in their last semester has not completed their credits, she steps in and strongly encourages them to do so. She explained that when the shelter-in-place order was given in the spring, each student received three additional C.E. credits, even if they had not attended any that semester. For graduating seniors, there was some concern about completing credits, but the committee made sure to assuage that worry.
“Students who were graduating seniors who still had C.E. credits to complete after those three were added, then had the option of watching several videos,” Boyd said. “There were several videos that were identified, about hour-long videos, and they watched a video and then answered a couple short questions related to those.”
According to Slade, these videos covered a variety of different disciplines to account for a range of interests, including cultural videos, TED talks and even a lecture in American sign language (ASL). Slade said that all the videos were vetted by the Dean’s Council and the C.E. credit committee. Donnelly said that the questions students had to answer about the videos were not very hard, as no one is tested on information from C.E. credits.
“As long as you learn something, that’s really what matters most,” Donnelly said.
When planning for the fall, the committee knew there would be factors present that they had never considered before, including a population of students who, for varied reasons, would not be returning to campus.
Donnelly wanted to ensure that none of those students missed out on their C.E. credits, and that is why the Zoom option was proposed in the first place. Donnelly outlined some of the specific requirements associated with joining an event online, saying that students must log into the program for its entirety, and be prepared to answer questions from a faculty sponsor, who makes a list of all the online participants during the event.
According to Donnelly, once students answer questions from the event, they should expect a delay in the credit showing up on their transcript. This is due to the faculty sponsors having to evaluate question responses before assigning the credit to the student, and because students won’t graduate in the middle of the fall semester, Donnelly is not worried about the delay.
For this fall, many events have been approved thus far, including BCTC’s production of “Tartuffe” that was postponed in the spring. Each event will have an in-person option as well as a Zoom option, with the in-person gathering limited to 50 people. Boyd said that there will be two events during the semester that are online-only; two authors will be Zooming in to read from their books. Slade said that the committee is actively evaluating event proposals, so there should be more hitting the Berry event calendar soon.
Each guest lecturer coming on campus, Boyd said, is screened just like anyone else. The event sponsor must submit a Visitor Request Form, which can be found on VikingWeb, and the guest is temperature-checked upon arrival. On campus, they must adhere to campus regulations, including wearing a mask and social distancing six feet apart.
Boyd is excited for the fall semester’s lineup of events and hopes that many more students will take advantage of them than before with the new Zoom option. She always encourages students to get their C.E. credits done as early as possible so there will be no issues come graduation. Slade is interested to see how the different clubs and student organizations on campus will be creative in the different events they propose to the committee; he knows they have to make the most of a difficult situation. He said that there is a lot of flexibility for individual organizers of events, so any club that wants to host one should submit a proposal. Donnelly said that there will always be a Zoom link for an event if students need it; especially for the students who are not on campus, they will always have an opportunity to join an event and receive credit.
Donnelly said students should be on the lookout for emails every week for a lineup of events. The current lineup of events can be found at anytime by checking the Berry events calendar, the new Berry Connect page or the Berry Events app, where students can RSVP to Zoom events.