To the Editor:
In a recent blog post, Matt Reed raises concerns about gas prices and their impact on the majority of students on physical campuses (that is, commuter students). This is a real concern and one that I was thinking about back in the early part of the 2010s when I first started developing and teaching hybrid flexible courses.
Before the pandemic made it obvious to all, my concerns focused on the fact that there are real barriers to getting to campus that will continue to multiply. Students who have been marginalized will also feel the effects the most. Gas prices, natural and unnatural disasters, and pandemics are some of the ways that disruption will continue to occur.
We knew this before the pandemic with colleges in nearly every part of the country having to shut down their campuses for days, weeks, or months. But amnesia is already setting in and Reed, among others, can’t seem to realize that we spent the last 2 years creating systems to navigate our certainly uncertain futures. They weren’t perfect solutions but first and even second drafts never are. It takes time and finessing to figure out the right balance; the traditional classroom is the product of millions of experiences over hundreds of years.
In the rush back to “normalize” things (whatever we mean by that), we’re forgetting that “normal” ways of institutions elevate exclusivity at the cost of those on the margin–all the while, claiming they care about their students and, of course, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The answer to Reed’s question seems simple; pivot to include students to attend virtually. It’s not elegant but if I can have elegance or do less harm to my students, I will choose less harm.
Director of Digital Pedagogy