Opinion Asks: Successes and Failures of a Remote Year

Of the numerous pandemic-related changes that Dartmouth has made this past year, what were the successes and failures?

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 5/18/21 2:05am

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by Julia Siegel / The Dartmouth

“As Dartmouth approaches the end of a full academic year online, it is important that the Dartmouth community reflects on the successes and failures of the past year. While some of the changes and policies the College has implemented in response to the pandemic have been successful, others have not been. Of the numerous pandemic-related changes that Dartmouth has made this past year, are there any you found to be particularly successful or unsuccessful? Why did you perceive them this way and what changes should be implemented as Dartmouth transitions back to “normal” in the coming months?”

As someone who has only experienced Dartmouth’s academic offerings online, I may be biased in offering both criticism and praise. However, I have participated in remote learning long enough to be able to appreciate the flexibility that recorded lecture videos, exams with open windows during which to take them and Zoom office hours can offer. While remote interactions are no substitute for in-person ones, I would hope to see some of the flexibility afforded by online learning roll over into the next, hopefully normal, academic year. I believe that all students, but particularly those with accessibility concerns in traditional classrooms, would benefit if the College continued to allocate resources toward the tools that have made remote learning possible — even if some haven’t been fans of the overall experience!

– Michael Harrison ’24

The “Community Conversations” livestreams are a rare example of a successful change. Provost Helble’s openness with the extended Dartmouth community is one of the many reasons why he will be missed, and all administrators should adopt his transparent approach moving forward. Separately, students should not forgive being charged full tuition for Zoom classes. Dartmouth ought to have discounted tuition given that Zoom provides a subpar, insufficient learning experience. Regardless, the College should return to in-person classes by this fall or even earlier. Rapidly increasing vaccination numbers and declining rates of infection will hopefully render this a real possibility quite soon.

– Thomas de Wolff  ’24

Dartmouth has put numerous policies in place to protect the health of the community during this tumultuous time, including a mask mandate, reduced on-campus capacity, and remote classes. However, most of these decisions have been made entirely by the Dartmouth administration, with little if any input from students, despite the fact that they make up the majority of the Dartmouth community. As a result, many of the decisions made, and the way decisions have been made, have been lacking the student point of view. I hope that as the College transitions back to "normal," student voices are better centered.

– Katherine Arrington ’24

Hosting certain types of brief, check-in meetings on Zoom should become the norm. While it’s easy to point to all that was lost in our transition to the virtual platform, it’s also made it much more convenient to manage certain meetings and events. Like many others, I don’t enjoy having to walk across campus for a 15-30 minute meeting — especially when it’s early in the morning, or freezing outside. It’s also much easier to schedule adjacent meetings, and not worry about scrambling between them. So, to faculty, club leaders, and others — please keep these short meetings on Zoom! 

– Max Teszler ’23