Davidson Commits MSU Denver to Anti-Racism Work; Fall Tuition Won’t Increase; Students Criticize Online Learning in Survey – – Met Media - Freelance Rack

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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Davidson Commits MSU Denver to Anti-Racism Work; Fall Tuition Won’t Increase; Students Criticize Online Learning in Survey – – Met Media

After the devastating death of George Floyd and nationwide protests calling for changes in police behavior, MSU Denver has committed to anti-racist action.

MSU Denver President Janine Davidson

On June 3, MSU Denver President Janine Davidson addressed students and faculty regarding the death of Floyd in Minneapolis. “I cannot help but think about the experiences of our black students – faculty and staff, in particular – and the perpetual injustices and indignities many of them have endured simply because of the color of their skin,” Davidson said. “MSU Denver is a diverse community that is passionately committed to social justice.”

The university will have educational spaces for the Roadrunner community to manage the emotions that come with this social movement.

Katia Campbell, Ph.D., president of the Faculty Senate, has begun a Dialogues Across Differences series in coordination with the Department of Communication Studies and the Dean of Student’s Office. These discussions address how MSU Denver can better combat systemic racism. The sessions feature a panel of faculty, staff and one alumnus.

Davidson tasked Michael Benitez, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, to work with other university leaders to formulate a plan for social and political change.

“This can be the moment that propels us to social change,” Davidson said.

No Tuition Increase for Fall; Fees Consolidated

 In consideration of economic hardship due to the Covid-19 crisis, MSU Denver has decided not to raise tuition and will waive several fees for the fall semester, Davidson told students in a June 5 email.

The decision was made in part with the Board of Trustees. Exempt fees include Campus Recreation, Intercollegiate Athletics and pass-through fees. RTD passes will be suspended for the fall, which means students who use public transit will have to pay for their rides. The Phoenix Center and Clean Energy fees will still apply.

“We simply cannot in good conscience raise tuition on our students given the challenges over the past two months,” Davidson said. “The combined fee will be assessed at a reduced rate of $20 per credit hour.”

The university is anticipating a $14 million shortfall for the fall semester. In phase one of filling the gap, hiring was canceled for most open positions, and faculty and staff salary increases were eliminated. Over 70% of the university’s annual budget goes toward employee compensation.

Some staff and faculty have volunteered for furlough days or separation incentives, which lead to early retirement or moving to another sector. “The next round will be mandatory furloughs,” said George Middlemist, associate vice president for Administration and chief financial officer. “The most unifying goal was to lessen the impact on our students.”

Financially, universities are taking a hit. “We are a tuition-dependent university, due in large part to chronic underfunding from the state over the past two decades,” Davidson said. A little over $3 million of the $14 million shortfall is from the state.

Survey: Online Courses in Spring Left 39% of Students Dissatisfied

Online classes during the spring semester left students with mixed feelings, according to a student survey released recently.

The switch to online courses in the spring semester was challenging for many students. The Division of Student Affairs collected a COVID-19 Impact Survey from April 23 to May 10. Out of the 1,597 students surveyed, 39% were not happy with the online-only learning environment.

The survey also found that 79% of students struggled to arrange their lives in a satisfying way.

Angelica Moreno, manager of assessment and evaluation for Student Affairs, emphasized that departments are adapting to help students in other ways. “There are quite a few departments that are looking at adjusting to these concerns in different ways, so I am hoping these interventions also will help students to again find a little bit more balance in their life at home and what it is it they are having to do and balance,” Moreno said. There were 41% of respondents who expressed that they were unable to create a study space to their liking.

On a brighter note, Moreno said potential fall enrollment numbers are higher than usual at this time. “About 77% of the respondents in total said yes they will be enrolling in the fall, and again, it’s not really a yes definitive type of data, but it at least gives us a latch onto what students are thinking,” she said.

Sophomore Conscience Barbar plans to take classes in the fall even though he prefers to be on campus. “I was going to attend in the fall whether or not tuition was going to increase,” Barbar said. “After reading that tuition would not increase, however, I decided that I should take advantage of it and add an extra class, rather than my usual four classes that I take each semester.”

Barbar also applauds how the university has handled the pandemic’s unprecedented effect on students. “I was somewhat relieved that Metro was trying to help out students and their parents with tuition cost,” he said, “but hopefully they consider doing this for the spring semester as well so that everyone can have ample time to get back on their feet.”

Junior Sarah Sternitzke plans to take one to two classes this fall and prefers online learning. “I was already planning on going back because I am still pursuing my degree in biology,” she said. “That is an encouraging thing, you know, to have a decrease in fees, you know, for tuition to make it more affordable.” Sternitzke thinks this will provide needed relief to students. “Anything to help kids with tuition is the way to go.”

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