U of L makes concessions in course delivery policy Wednesday, Jan 26 2022 

By Madelin Shelton —

The university has announced flexibility in its course delivery policy after significant pushback from the U of L community.

Faculty are now allowed to temporarily shift their mode of instruction from face-to-face to virtual and use remote work options in accordance with their supervisor or department chair. U of L updated the Emergency Temporary Leave Guidelines to reflect the new standards, along with the policy on flexible scheduling.

Guidelines for faculty are summarized as follows:

  • Express your specific request to your immediate department chair.
  • If you’re concerned that your chair is not granting you flexibility outlined in the current policy and guidelines, contact your dean.
  • If you’re concerned that neither your chair nor dean are granting you flexibility outlined in the current policy and guidelines, contact the Office of the Provost (provost@louisville.edu).

Guidelines for staff are as follows:

  • Express your specific request to your immediate supervisor.
  • If you’re concerned that your supervisor is not granting you flexibility outlined in the current policy and guidelines, contact the next level(s) of supervision.
  • If you’ve exhausted all levels of supervision in your chain of command and are still concerned, contact HR’s Employee Relations Team (emrelate@louisville.edu).

“The guidelines and policy mentioned below are in place to support our faculty and staff while still offering the highest level of instruction and service to our students. They are meant to be short-term solutions, and do not suggest that faculty may switch modes of course delivery for the entire semester,” the university said in a statement.

The change of course comes after U of L faced extensive criticism for requiring faculty to teach in-person unless they were sick with or exposed to COVID-19. The U of L Chapter of the American Association of University Professors, College of A&S Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee and the United Campus Workers all spoke out against the original policy. A petition sponsored by the UCW demanding more flexibility in course delivery policy and stricter COVID-19 regulations garnered over 1,700 signatures. The UCW also held a rally and expressed opposition to the policy at a board of trustees meeting last week.

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Immunocompromised student speaks out against course delivery policy Sunday, Jan 16 2022 

By Madelin Shelton — 

A psychology graduate student at U of L wants flexibility in the university’s course delivery policy and her message has gone viral.

Madison Shannon was hospitalized from Jan. 9 to Jan. 15 with complications from an open-heart surgery she underwent Dec. 17.

Shannon posted an email correspondence with U of L Interim President Lori Gonzalez to her Instagram and Facebook pages, and she said it has been shared over 200 times and has received more than 1,900 likes.

She discussed her experience post-surgery. “It was a very scary experience, and it was overwhelming as well. I was delirious,” she said. Shannon thought she was going to die from the complications.

Shannon describes herself as medically complex. She was born with aortic stenosis, a congenital heart defect which results in reduced or blocked blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. She also has Turner syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder that affects only females in which one of the X chromosomes is missing or partially missing. Shannon has had three open-heart surgeries.

On Jan. 9, Shannon sent an email to Gonzalez in response to a U of L update reiterating the university’s decision to continue the Spring semester in-person.

Shannon’s email criticized the university’s decision regarding its course delivery policy. “The way that the university has handle the COVID situation has been completely disappointing and inaccessible. I understand being concerned about academic performance and mental well-being of students, but some of the students, faculty, and staff are concerned about our livelihood,” she said.

“I am so sorry to hear about you health issue. I wish you a quick recovery. Take care,” Gonzalez responded.

Shannon was deeply disappointed by Gonzalez’s response. “It felt like ‘okay that’s your problem, that’s not a problem as a university.’ Whereas I feel like it is a university problem. A lot of people expect young 20-year-olds and teenagers to be relatively healthy but that’s not always the case and, you know, I’m the perfect example of that,” she said. “I feel like we’re not being seen as people, we’re not being seen at all honestly.”

In defending the course delivery policy, the university has cited the 91 percent vaccination rate of the U of L community, but Shannon argues that is not enough.

She is fully vaccinated, but not boosted because of the issues it could pose for her currently weakened immune system. Her doctors are also concerned about the toll COVID-19 would have on her body even with being fully vaccinated, especially three weeks post-op from major surgery.

Shannon acknowledged that mental health and academic performance are important considerations, but she believes there are more crucial factors to consider. “Those are important, but it doesn’t just affect everyone that little. It affects people in much bigger ways, like my livelihood. I would prefer to live.”

Shannon has received permission to conduct her classes virtually until February given her current health situation and the need for a mandated quarantine period post-hospital stay. However, to her understanding she is expected to attend class in-person after that point.

Shannon belongs to the United Campus Workers, a group composed of campus workers from across Kentucky. Along with United Campus Workers, Shannon is asking for the option of online instruction for both faculty and students and more stringent COVID-19 prevention strategies. The organization created a petition for these initiatives that has amassed over 1,500 signatures.

The Louisville Cardinal reached out to the university for further comment and none was given.

Photo Courtesy // Madison Shannon

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Dean Owen indicates no change in course delivery policy Wednesday, Jan 12 2022 


By Madelin Shelton — 

College of Arts and Sciences Interim Dean David Owen responded to the uproar from faculty over the university’s policy of mandated in-person courses and reaffirmed the university’s stance.

After U of L Interim President Lori Gonzalez sent out an announcement to the entire university community informing them that the semester would be conducted as originally planned for both in-person and virtual courses, Owen sent out a reminder on Jan. 7 to A&S faculty reminding them to conduct courses how they were described in the Schedule of Courses.

A&S faculty began voicing their frustrations to the dean in an email chain over the weekend.

Owen sent a note to A&S department chairs on Sunday, Jan. 9. “I told them it was their responsibility to make sure these courses were taught as they were advertised,” Owen said. He said he expected faculty to abide by university policy, and failure to follow said policy could result in accountability, including disciplinary action.

Some of the deans and faculty viewed this as Owen threatening the faculty with punishment if they failed to teach the courses through their original method. He acknowledged that some individuals perceived this note as a threat, but Owen claims he was simply referring to the expectation that faculty abide by university policy.

Faculty complained the policy is inflexible for individuals who are, for example, vaccinated themselves but have young children at home who are unable to get one. When asked about this type of specific circumstance, Owen referenced U of L’s ability to maintain face-to-face courses throughout the pandemic the last year by implementing health protocols like masking and social distancing. He also mentioned the university’s vaccination rate of over 90 percent.

“Nothing has changed really in this occurrence,” he said. “You know, it’s a particular spike of a new variant but we’ve dealt with spikes in variants before while remaining on campus.”

He continued, “If faculty or staff have particular health concerns, whether it’s with their own health or health of family members in their household, whether they’re children or parents that might be living with them or somebody who’s immunocompromised, we have a family medical leave policy that can account for that. Folks have applied for that in those circumstances.” Faculty are not permitted to teach, even virtually, should they choose a family medical leave option.

Owen said the university crafts policy that prioritizes equity and accounts for all faculty, staff and students. However, some individuals have criticized this policy as detracting from equity. Dr. Tracy K’Meyer, a Professor of History at U of L, spoke on this point.

“In the dean’s note, he referenced treating everybody equitably. Part of it is that’s kind of a misuse of the term equitably. Equity doesn’t mean treating everybody the same, it means treating people based on their own circumstances.”

More than just faculty have spoken out against the university’s policy. A petition opposing it sponsored by the U of L chapter of United Campus Workers has over 1,500 signatures from faculty, staff, students and other community members.

The U of L chapter of the American Association of University Professors and the College of A&S Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee have released statements in opposition to the policy.

Owen did clarify that faculty were never given the autonomy throughout the pandemic to teach courses in a way that diverged from the chosen method listed in the original Schedule of Courses, unless they were exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19 and temporarily needed to move instruction online. During periods when all courses were taught virtually due to the pandemic, it was a university-wide policy.

When asked if the university planned on changing its policy in response to the significant pushback it has received, Owen said “My understanding is there is no intention to change the policy at the university level and that is what I will follow.” However, he did mention that President Gonzalez and her team were constantly monitoring the ever-evolving circumstances of the pandemic and could change policy when deemed necessary.

Photo Courtesy // University of Louisville

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U of L will require COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, Nov 18 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

President Neeli Bendapudi  announced Nov. 18 university employees will be required to be vaccinated or face disciplinary action. This decision comes in light of President Biden’s September executive order requiring federal contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The university is subject to Executive Order 14042 because of multiple federal contracts and agreements U of L depends on for operation.

The university reports more than 91 percent of students, faculty and staff are already fully vaccinated.

Bendapudi said that those faculty, staff and students who have not been vaccinated will be contacted directly and must be fully vaccinated or have approved medical or religious exemption on file by Jan. 18, 2022. Those who receive an exemption must get tested regularly.

“Those who fail to comply with the vaccination mandate or who fail to submit their updated medical or religious exemption will be subject to disciplinary action that may include unpaid leave and separation from the university,” she said.

This federal regulation also requires that U of L maintains mask and social distancing policies in accordance with Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

Members of the U of L community can get more information about being vaccinated on campus here.

 

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L students and faculty following COVID-19 guidelines this semester Tuesday, Nov 16 2021 

By Alexia Juarez — 

As we reach the end of the fall semester, it’s imperative that students on campus still stay informed regarding the University of Louisville’s COVID-19 guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being. 

On Nov. 9, U of L informed the university that Campus Health Services will be providing COVID-19 boosters to faculty, staff and students by appointment. From Nov. 17-19, the university will also provide a vaccine clinic at the Student Activities Center from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.  

The university has also provided a list of health protocols provided on the university’s web page. Some of these include wearing a mask in common areas, disinfecting used surfaces and staying home if a student feels sick to avoid contact with others.

Students residing on campus were required to complete training videos sent out via e-mail and review university actions and individual responsibilities for the fall semester. These procedures are completely understandable, as campus students are potentially exposed at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than those going solely online. 

The university also updated the student code, requiring full compliance with public health policies. These include abiding by the face mask policies or being asked to leave a lecture at the discretion of the instructor. It’s important that students and staff do their part in ensuring their own safety, as well as the safety of others, to avoid a serious wave of cases.  

Students are not the only ones at risk. The university has also provided faculty with the option to conduct their courses online or hybrid. Faculty are given the choice to request modifications to their fall teaching schedules, which are then be considered by their department’s chair or dean.  

Faculty will be the driving force in helping to make the most out of their students’ education in such an unpredictable time. Several professors, like mine, have strongly encouraged students to get their vaccines by sending reminders and announcing incentives for such actions. 

Siobhan Smith-Jones, a communication professor at U of L, sent out an email in September announcing Campus Health’s pop-up vaccination events. 

Smith-Jones said she believes that the administration has done as good of a job as they can and finds that the online instruction has made her teaching schedule more flexible. She also emphasized how the pandemic and instruction change has affected her students.  

“While a base level of stress is natural for college students, my students seemed to be stressed out more since the pandemic,” said Smith-Jones. 

Overall, it’s important we take these last few weeks of the fall semester and finish strong. The emotional and mental toll this pandemic has taken on students and instructors has been a journey to say the least, but as long as we keep our heads high and push through, we can look forward to this holiday season with eager anticipation.  

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L sets dates for pop-up vaccine and booster clinics Tuesday, Nov 9 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville announced on Nov. 9 that they would host another round of pop-up clinics for COVID vaccines/boosters and flu vaccines. The clinics will run from Nov. 10 through Nov. 12 on the Health Sciences Campus and from Nov. 17 to Nov. 19 on the Belknap Campus.

“U of L Campus Health Services will be offering Covid boosters, Covid vaccinations and flu vaccinations this week at the Health Sciences Center and next week on the Belknap Campus to faculty, staff and students,” the email said.  “You can get both your Covid vaccine/booster and your flu vaccine at the same time if desired.”

The HSC clinics will be in the U of L Healthcare Outpatient Center in the Conference Center/Physicians Lounge across from suite 110 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The Belknap clinics will be at the SAC across from the mail/print shop from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Those interested in being vaccinated are encouraged to register beforehand to save time, but walk-ins will be accepted. Campus Health Services attached the following instructions for scheduling an appointment ahead of time:

“1. If you want to receive a flu vaccine and a COVID vaccine you will need to make two appointments.

2. Go to https://louisvilleportal.pointnclick.com

3. Click the “Student, Staff and Faculty” button at the top of the page. 4. Microsoft login screen will open. Sign using your ULINK ID@louisville.edu and associated password

5. “Stay Signed In” screen will appear and click No.

6. Confirm your identity by entering your date of birth and click proceed.

7. You should now be on the main page of the Campus Health Patient Portal.

8. To schedule an appointment, click on View, Check-in or Book an Appointment.”

More information about the COVID-19 vaccine, the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 booster can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Website.

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal

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Vaccines could become mandatory on campus Thursday, Oct 21 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

COVID-19 vaccines might soon be mandatory across campus.  The University of Louisville announced on Oct. 21 that they would be evaluating a vaccine requirement for all federal contractors to determine their next steps.  It could mean all students, faculty and staff at U of L must be vaccinated

“The university was recently informed that the federal government’s requirement for all federal contractors and covered contractors to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate will apply to the university,” the email announcement said. “Because the university has numerous federal contracts that we depend on for our operation, we are seriously evaluating these requirements.”

The email came from Provost Lori Stewart Gonzalez. She said she would inform the campus community once additional information is received. It was also signed by Executive Vice President for Research & Innovation Kevin Gardner, Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students Michael Mardis, Human Resources Vice President Mary Miles, Executive Director of Campus Health Services Phillip Bressoud, and Chief Operating Officer Mark Watkins.

The group continues to encourage vaccinations.

They closed the email by thanking those who are working to keep the campus community safe from COVID-19.

“We thank Campus Health Services, the Contact Tracing Team and the Business Operations COVID Support Team for the work they have dedicated toward the university’s COVID-19 response. And we thank you, Cardinal Family, for getting vaccinated not only for yourself and loved ones but also for your fellow Cardinals and the community at large. The vaccines are safe, effective and our best tool for fighting against the pandemic.”

Those interested in getting vaccinated can go to U of L’s COVID-19 protocols page for more information.

File Graphic//The Louisville Cardinal

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Why Do People Fear Vaccines? Wednesday, Oct 20 2021 

By Jacob Maslow–Branded Content

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccine hesitancy is one of today’s leading health threats. Vaccine hesitancy began when the process of immunization started. This happened at the end 18th century when people were being vaccinated against smallpox. Since some people died after being vaccinated, this led to the outbreak of vaccine hesitancy. Another outbreak of anti-vaccination hysteria occurred when one study published in the Lancet in 2000 revealed a link between the MMR vaccine and a higher risk of autism.

The most recent episode of vaccine hesitancy is related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people do not want to get a COVID vaccine as they do not trust it. However, other factors guide vaccine attitudes, and here is a list of some of them.

Efficacy and Safety Concerns

The COVID-19 vaccines are fully approved for commercial use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the FDA originally issued Emergency Use Authorization for vaccines because of a public health emergency based on the results of clinical trials that include thousands of participants. However, since the vaccines were developed and received the Emergency Use Authorization within a shorter period, than expected this has raised efficiency and safety concerns among people.

Preference For Physiological Immunity

There are two ways to achieve herd immunity – through previous infections or vaccination. However, many people have expressed their preference to obtain their COVID immunity via infection rather than getting it via vaccination.

Distrust In Healthcare And the Government

Trust is a key factor in gaining acceptance of a new vaccine. Many people have doubts about COVID spread, lethality, vaccination safety, and prevention. They are also exposed to different conspiracy theories that claim that the government created the new virus or that the virus’s lethality is exaggerated.

Actual Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines

In general, COVID-19 vaccines are effective (95% efficacy) and safe. However, there is also a shallow risk of any side effects. Moreover, the statistics show that even if people get COVID after being vaccinated, they will not have any severe side effects.

How To Convince People To Get The Vaccine

The best way to talk someone into getting the vaccine is to not focus on the existing myths and provide them with the facts. However, do not forget to ask their permission first before sharing information. If they agree, they will probably be more willing to listen to you. Also, always let them know where you get the information you trust. The most reliable sources of information are official websites, such as CDC.gov , cor the local health department website.

You can also ask your vaccine-hesitant friends or relatives open-ended questions to understand better what exactly they are worried about. Try not to sound judgemental to offend them, and always end a conversation on a respectful note. It is essential to let them know that you respect their decisions.

Photo Courtesy of Jacob Maslow//Cosmic Press

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Colin Powell: The loss of an American hero and a bygone era Tuesday, Oct 19 2021 

By Madelin Shelton–

Early Monday morning, Americans woke to the news that Colin Powell, a four-star general and former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, had passed away from complications of COVID-19.

This loss struck a chord with people across the political spectrum, as Powell was widely respected among Democrats and Republicans alike. This shared bipartisan grief points to a greater truth: America has lost the epitome of a statesman with his passing.

A trailblazer in his field, Powell became the first Black national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. Prior to these roles, he served in the Army for 35 years, in which he was deployed to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

While these are noteworthy accomplishments on their own, they become even more astounding when you consider from where Powell rose up to these ranks.

Born to Jamaican immigrants in a Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Powell did not come from an elite background like so many of his predecessors and successors. He was not a graduate of an ivy league college, but rather The City College of New York, in which he joined the college’s ROTC program and thus began his military career.

His story is the quintessential American Dream. But don’t take my word for it. “Mine is the story of a black kid of no early promise from an immigrant family of limited means who was raised in the South Bronx,” Powell said in his 1995 autobiography “My American Journey.” He repeatedly framed his story as one characteristic of American success.

In his various roles of soldier, diplomat and adviser, Powell shaped U.S. national security policy for decades, and he did so with stellar leadership skills that demanded respect.

Powell even came to the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center in 2001 as part of the Center’s Distinguished Speakers Series and delivered remarks famously called “The Louisville Address” by diplomats across the globe. It was the first time the United States government laid out a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Gary Gregg, PhD, the Director of the McConnell Center, remarked on the exceptional leader Powell was.

The key to his influence was being a patriot, a statesman, a lover of his country and someone who would support the American military outside of the partisan divide,” Gregg said. “I think the other thing about him that’s really important is that as a military man, he understood the cost of using the American military. He would generally be the least hawkish in the room in terms of using military force.”

Gregg pointed to Powell’s own experience as a Vietnam veteran that likely contributed to his hesitancy to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way. Powell genuinely understood the cost of the decisions he was helping to make in U.S. national security. In his decision-making, he was consistently level-headed, straightforward and analytical. He was the exact kind of person you would want in the room when making significant decisions about the military and American force, and the United States is better today because of his service.  

In addition to representing the loss of an extraordinary statesman and national hero, Powell’s death reminds us of a bygone era in American politics: an era where increasing political polarization didn’t infect every facet of American life.

Gregg said that instead of looking at this moment in terms of what we’ve lost, we should look at it in terms of what we’ve gained: a moment to reflect on our current politics. “I think we can look at this as a moment and remind ourselves that not long ago in American history, we had a national leader who could command wide respect in the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, that’s very difficult to find today.”

Powell was able to get people to take off their partisan jerseys in ways that many others could not. He strived to stay above the partisan fray and served this country faithfully as an American soldier and public servant. Perhaps we can use this moment to honor an American hero, emulate his dedication to public service and seek to find more common ground with our fellow Americans.  

Photo Courtesy// The New York Times

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U of L returns to in-person commencement ceremonies Sunday, Oct 3 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

U of L will return to indoor, in-person commencement ceremonies for the first time in two years in December.

The university announced that the ceremonies to celebrate U of L’s August and December 2021 graduates will take place Friday, Dec. 17.

The Graduate School Doctoral Hooding and Graduation Ceremony will take place in the SAC Ballroom at 2:00 p.m. and the University-wide Commencement Ceremony will occur at the KFC YUM! Center at 7:00 p.m.

“U of L will follow all CDC, state and city guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety for the ceremony,” the announcement said. The university also mentioned potential changes to the planned events due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U of L community can stay up to date on commencement safety protocols here.

All faculty are invited to attend, with participation in commencement being optional.

For faculty who plan to attend, they are required to fill out the faculty RSVP form by Oct. 31.

The university also asked faculty members who don’t own regalia to request for U of L to rent it for them by completing the rental order form as soon as possible. Regalia must be ordered by Oct. 31 at 11:59 p.m. More information on regalia pickup will be announced mid-November.

Further information on safety protocols, parking, and entry instructions will also be provided by mid-November.

Any questions can be directed to commence@louisville.edu.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal 

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