In the MOU for Fall 2021 that AFT 1493 recently negotiated with the District, we were happy to agree on the provision that, for Fall semester, course sections that achieve an enrollment of at least 10 students will not be canceled for low enrollment. This provision helps ensure that the District is able to offer workable options to both students who prefer to take classes in person and those who want to continue taking classes online. However, we were dismayed to hear recently that deans have already begun canceling Fall online courses that currently have fewer than 10 students and that there have been efforts to convert online courses to in-person classes.
AFT 1493 asks all faculty scheduled to teach this Fall: Please print or take a screenshot of all rosters for your Fall 2021 courses at least once a week from now until Census Day on September 7.
In addition, please reach out to AFT by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org immediately if one of the following happens to you:
- You are encouraged to convert an online course to in-person format or
- A section you are scheduled to teach is canceled due to low enrollment
Faculty members and students spoke out at the July 14 Board of Trustees meeting to call on the District to stop these class cancellations.
Click on the links below to watch the specific public comments described:
- Lucia Lachmayr (Skyline, English) reads a letter from an adjunct colleague who has taught at Skyline for over 15 years. The statement explains how canceled classes represent unpaid faculty labor who spend significant preparation time before classes start and are a disservice to students who are prevented from taking specific, often unique, classes.
- David Lau (CSM, English) reads a statement from CSM adjunct geography instructor, Margaret Kaluzny, describing how cancelling online classes disrupts students’ plans and opportunities
- Evan Kaiser (CSM, ESL) explains the importance of not cancelling ESL classes in order to provide students the opportunity to progress effectively through the program and to offer a gateway to students moving into more advanced classes
- Marianne Kaletzky (AFT 1493 Executive Secretary) presents the union’s position on why early cancellation of Fall 2021 classes is harmful to students who have made plans to take online classes since the District announced back in February that Fall 2021 courses would be online and how class cancellations also impact adjunct faculty’s plans and income.
- Shannon Hong (STEM student, Skyline College) explains how online classes presented many difficult issues at first for the majority of students, but now many students have adjusted to online instruction and are finding that online courses can be advantageous for their scheduling and their ability to take classes at multiple colleges without needing to commute
- Kolo Wamba (Skyline, Physics) reads a statement from Skyline History Professor Rosie Bell who was asked if she would convert two of her online classes to face-to-face.
- Rika Yonemura-Fabian (Skyline, Social Justice) reads a statement from Attila Elteto (Cañada, Physics) who explains why the increased number of low-enrollment classes “should be treated as a symptom to be mended, not a problem to be cut out”
- Kassidy Corbin (Communications student, Skyline College) explains how class cancellations would seriously impact her scheduled plans for graduation and for supporting her family
- Nicolas Marin (Aviation student, CSM) explains how class cancellations would delay his academic and life goals of transferring to a four-year college to become an airline pilot
- Kristina Brower (Skyline, PSC & adjunct instructor, Education & Child Development) explains how class cancellations would cause departments to lose newer, more diverse faculty members and would slow the trajectory of students who have carefully planned their course schedules
Many students do not register for courses until just before the semester starts. By canceling classes now, before they have time to fill, the District is depriving those students who are registered of the chance to take a course that works for their schedule and allows them to achieve their educational goals on the timeline they’ve planned. While the District plans to open new in-person sections with the expectation that students whose online courses are canceled can register instead for those in-person courses, many students have made their plans for work, childcare, and family responsibilities based on the knowledge that they would be taking classes remotely. Many of these students cannot suddenly pivot and rearrange their lives to take courses in person.
Class cancellations also impact our faculty, particularly adjunct faculty, who often work across multiple institutions to make enough money to live on. While an adjunct may have an online course canceled and be offered an in-person course instead, the course may meet at a time that they’re scheduled to teach at another institution. As a result, adjuncts whose online courses are canceled stand to lose significant income—even if they are later offered in-person courses.
Adjuncts have made a commitment to this District when, in many cases, they could have accepted a teaching offer elsewhere—and many adjuncts have made that commitment based on the announcement that their fall courses would be online. Students have made plans based on this same announcement. We know that many faculty and students are excited to return to campus this Fall and we support any effort to boost our District’s enrollments. What we are asking is that, as the District moves forward with its plans to add in-person sections, it also stays true to its promise of offering “something for everyone” by giving online sections reasonable time to fill. Deans must be instructed to wait to cancel Fall online courses that currently have fewer than 10 students. Classes must be given sufficient time to fill so that our students’ educational plans are not derailed, and adjunct instructors do not needlessly lose an essential source of income. Faculty and students are depending on these sections.
* The audio of one of the public comments was not audible in the video recording. The following statement was read by Eric Brenner (Skyline College Librarian) on behalf of a Skyline Anthropology professor who had two summer online sections cancelled:
- When the professor announced to students that the courses were canceled, a huge number of students wrote back to say how the cancellation was disrupting their plans. Here are just two examples:
- One student: “The reason why I was upset and angry was that I can’t take this class in the fall. This class was perfect for my schedule since I work full time. I can’t take this class in the fall because I will be taking EMT which is 11 units. And I can’t take this class in the spring of 2022 because I will be taking the fire academy (12 units). My Ed plan is already set for me to graduate in the spring of 2022.”
- And the second student: “I had enrolled into your class because it was fully online which 100% works with my schedule. I am trying to find an asynchronous course because I am sure I won’t be able to attend meeting times due to my job schedule and Medical Assistant program.”
- Students like these are depending on the Fall online courses they have already registered for and planned their obligations around. We ask the Board and administrators to keep these students in mind as you consider canceling Fall online courses.