All Posts

Boston in the Red, an Article by Five BU Public Health Experts, and the Dashboard

On Wednesday this week, Boston moved into the official red zone for coronavirus risks, reflecting a rising replication rate in MA in general. BU’s weekly COVID-19 report notes that the number of positive results at BU increased last week, and Associate Provost Gloria Waters is quoted there as saying that she is “concerned about what… Continue reading Boston in the Red, an Article by Five BU Public Health Experts, and the Dashboard

Students are Staying Away from University Classrooms

Our university leaders, I have now heard, are very worried about the fact that most students are staying away from university classrooms and opting to attend classes remotely (as predicted). BU Today has not reported on the fact that students enrolled in hybrid classes are opting to attend their classes remotely, but The Daily Free… Continue reading Students are Staying Away from University Classrooms

The Future of Learn from Anywhere, and the Dashboard

It was made explicit in a meeting of department chairs this week that when it comes to planning for the Spring semester, BU is presently assuming that instructors who have not successfully applied for workplace adjustments that permit them to teach remotely will continue to follow the LfA hybrid model and teach on campus. This… Continue reading The Future of Learn from Anywhere, and the Dashboard

Show us the Information

It’s been a couple of weeks since I and others started pointing out that there are serious problems with BU’s Dashboard that are due to the fact that the denominator being used for BU data throughout is number of tests (a number that keeps going up and up, as students are tested twice a week,… Continue reading Show us the Information

Chaos on Campus

It’s the first day of classes here at BU. Let me begin by wishing everyone a safe semester. One thing we can all agree on is that the less suffering there is this semester, the better. As a BU faculty member, I can also say that we all want students to enjoy the classes they… Continue reading Chaos on Campus

BU’s Dashboard is Misleading, and this Matters

The following text recently appeared in a public relations piece published by Boston University: [President] Brown says the dashboard will help answer the important question: in terms of infection rate, ‘is BU better off or worse off than the community at large? That’s the transparency we need to know, and the community around us needs… Continue reading BU’s Dashboard is Misleading, and this Matters

The Students are and will be Disappointed

I have just had an op-ed I wrote published in Inside Higher Education, “False Advertising and the In-Person Experience” (original title: “The Students will be Disappointed”). Here is a central passage: Let us assume, since administrators are saying this, that most students presently want the option to be able to take classes in person. The… Continue reading The Students are and will be Disappointed

An Email with Instructions to Faculty

Yesterday (August 3), two undergraduate student journalists independently reported on an email that was sent to CAS faculty on July 29. Grace Ferguson broke the story with an excellent example of journalistic work on WTBU, the student-run university radio station, and Katarzyna Jezak of the Daily Free Press, an independent student newspaper, further reported on… Continue reading An Email with Instructions to Faculty

Are Faculty in Colleges other than CAS Concerned about the University’s Plans?

I belong to the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) at Boston University. I have attended meetings in this college where many people have carefully and passionately criticized the university’s plans for the Fall, especially (but not only) the way in which central elements of these plans were put in place with next to no… Continue reading Are Faculty in Colleges other than CAS Concerned about the University’s Plans?

BU Today and BU Tomorrow

This is a guest post by Jonathan R. Zatlin, Associate Professor of History at Boston University. A few weeks ago, in the midst of thinking about our future at BU, I invited BU Today to report on a letter to university leaders by the History Department, which you can find here. The letter asked the… Continue reading BU Today and BU Tomorrow

Quarantine Requirements and Compliance Issues

I recently reported that BU was planning to merely recommend that students arriving from out of state enter quarantine for fourteen days, rather than require that they do so. Fortunately, this insufficiently cautious plan has had to change because, on July 24, MA Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order putting in place new quarantine… Continue reading Quarantine Requirements and Compliance Issues

Workplace Adjustment Requests Update, with Invitation to Provide Comments

On Tuesday, July 21, department chairs at Boston University were sent a memo that made a number of them angry. The memo was accompanied by a list of their department members who had filed workplace adjustment requests, indicating whether the HR Work Adjustment Request Team (WART) had decided they met the CDC high-risk category guidelines… Continue reading Workplace Adjustment Requests Update, with Invitation to Provide Comments

Excellent News for International Students, as well as, perhaps, BU Teachers

As the reader is no doubt already aware, the Trump administration has backed down from their plan to implement a new set of ICE guidelines for international students which would have meant overseas students would not have been able to attend colleges that are going online in the Fall, and that they would have needed… Continue reading Excellent News for International Students, as well as, perhaps, BU Teachers

A City Council Meeting and Critical Letters and Articles

Yesterday, the Boston City Council Committee on Public Health met to discuss university reopening plans. Jason Prentice, of BU’s College of Arts & Sciences Writing Program, presented live testimony, and submitted a letter corresponding to his testimony. I recommend that members of the Boston University community read this letter, as well as a letter and… Continue reading A City Council Meeting and Critical Letters and Articles

Healthy people as young as 45 at greater risk from Covid-19 than people deemed “at increased risk” by the CDC

This is a guest post by Michael Otsuka, Professor of Philosophy at the London School of Economics A study just published in Nature reveals the following: even for someone with no underlying health conditions, the increased risk associated with being 45 years of age, rather than 30, is greater than the increased risk associated with various health… Continue reading Healthy people as young as 45 at greater risk from Covid-19 than people deemed “at increased risk” by the CDC

International Undergraduate Students, ICE, and University Policies

I am going to comment on two significant news items from yesterday. First, Harvard University announced that a maximum of 40% of their undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences will be staying on their campus in the Fall, and confirmed that all courses there will be online courses (six of their graduate… Continue reading International Undergraduate Students, ICE, and University Policies

A Letter to the Boston City Council, for a Meeting on July 9

Dear Boston City Council members, We are sending this open letter to you about Boston University’s plans for the Fall in anticipation of your upcoming meeting on July 9 to discuss these plans. We are two ethics professors at BU responsible for starting a petition, which presently contains over 1500 signatures, calling on BU to permit all of its university… Continue reading A Letter to the Boston City Council, for a Meeting on July 9

BU Professors Publish in Medium and the Conversation, and BU is in the News

One month after sending our open letter to Boston University’s leaders and the university community, my department colleague Russell Powell and I have published an opinion piece in Medium that has its distant origins in that letter: Colleges Must Not Compel People to Teach In Person During the Pandemic. Please share our Medium piece with… Continue reading BU Professors Publish in Medium and the Conversation, and BU is in the News

A Letter from Rep. Joe Kennedy and a Letter from BU History

Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA 4th District) sent a letter today to President Brown of Boston University, calling on the university to fix their policies regarding PhD students, and allow all graduate students and other teachers at BU to “Teach from Anywhere” (a phrase I and others have been using for some time now).… Continue reading A Letter from Rep. Joe Kennedy and a Letter from BU History

A Tale of Two Letters

Two letters. The first is a letter from the graduate students and faculty of the BU English department, expressing solidarity between graduate students and faculty, in opposition to the Provost’s Memo of June 19 regarding PhD students and the “opaque process that has been poorly explained” surrounding possible exemptions. Amongst other things (including the disproportional… Continue reading A Tale of Two Letters

Racism and BU, COVID-19 in Black and Latinx Communities, and Workplace Adjustments

Originally published June 25, 2020 Yesterday was BU’s Day of Collective Engagement. It’s a very good thing indeed that the university has been asking us all to reflect on issues concerning racism that involve BU, and this request couldn’t have come a moment too soon, given the incredible moral significance of efforts to combat racism in… Continue reading Racism and BU, COVID-19 in Black and Latinx Communities, and Workplace Adjustments

CDC Guidelines Change on Day that Workplace Adjustment Forms are Due

Originally published June 25, 2020 The CDC today released new guidelines regarding underlying medical conditions and COVID-19. There are important changes to the classifications of increased risk groups. For example, it was previously stated that a BMI of 40 or over puts you in an increased risk group, but it is now stated that a BMI of 30… Continue reading CDC Guidelines Change on Day that Workplace Adjustment Forms are Due

Where are you BU Today?

Originally published June 22, 2020 Before we had finished writing our open letter to our BU leaders, Russell Powell and I were informed by BU Today that they might be interested in publishing an open letter to the BU community that we were writing. We sent it to them on June 2. We received a reply that said that they had… Continue reading Where are you BU Today?

Faculty Council Meeting, Workplace Adjustment Forms, and Teaching Rooms

Originally published June 19, 2020 Four days after a snapshot of our petition was provided to our university leaders  (it remains open), I can report that a great many things have occurred at BU. Still, in the wake of emergency university meetings early in the week, one thing is very clear: the university has further hardened… Continue reading Faculty Council Meeting, Workplace Adjustment Forms, and Teaching Rooms

Petition Delivered with 1063 Signatures, a Faculty Council Meeting, and English Department Letter

Originally published June 15, 2020 This morning we forwarded our petition as it was at 9am to our university leaders (with 1063 signatures after repeat entries were removed).  If anyone would like a copy of the spreadsheet and the open email we sent, please let me know. Thank you very much to everyone who has signed it… Continue reading Petition Delivered with 1063 Signatures, a Faculty Council Meeting, and English Department Letter

500 Signatures in 24 Hours and Boston Globe Article

Originally published June 11, 2020 Our petition received approximately 500 signatures in the first twenty four hours, from professors,  lecturers, medical professionals, graduate teaching fellows, and concerned members of the public. We are hoping to receive many more signatures, and would encourage everyone to continue sending around the above link, or the link for the present… Continue reading 500 Signatures in 24 Hours and Boston Globe Article

The Petitions

Originally published June 10, 2020 Yesterday, the university told students, “LfA [Learn from Anywhere] will give our students the option to either be in the classroom in-person or participate remotely from a dorm room or off-campus home. Students may exercise the remote option for a period of time or for the entire semester. The decision to learn remotely may… Continue reading The Petitions

Open Letter

Open Letter to BU Leaders and the University Community of  June 2, 2020Russell Powell and Daniel Star BU’s plan for the fall of 2020 remains very much in flux. At the moment, however, the university appears wedded to the idea that not only should all students who are well and able take up residence on campus,… Continue reading Open Letter