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‘A Mixed Bag’: Howard Faculty and Students Weigh In On Their First Week

Founders Library. Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

After two years of virtual learning, classes are now primarily being held in-person, and an optional mask mandate has taken effect as of  June 10. With the conclusion of their first week on campus, Howard faculty and students give mixed commentary about their experiences with classes.  

Undergraduate studies academic advisor Crystal Donaldson notes there have been positive changes in her department, “It’s totally changed…we have a whole new staff and a new director…I’m thoroughly pleased,” she said.

“We have a really good set of incoming students,” Cyrus Hampton, a professor since 2017 in the English department and assistant for the first-year writing program said, “first years seem excited and ready to learn, ready to do some classwork…” 

Responses from some students have also noted that this first week has been a lot smoother, as it’s been syllabus week and learning introductions, and have enjoyed their classes before it gets hard. 

Caleb Baker, a senior from Dallas, Texas, expressed how his experiences this year contrast with last year’s where every class was online. 

“I’ve been here for the past two weeks in the DMV area…I feel [that] what I put my money towards this school year has gone to the right places. I feel like I’m actually getting what I paid for. I’m pretty grateful for everything,” Baker said.

While some have experienced positivity in their first week, there remain some issues and concerns. 

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It’s been “a mixed bag,” as Hampton put it. “We’ve had our various foibles when it comes to class space. Lots of people have been getting pushed online, lots of teachers have been having double bookings in their classroom…there have been troubles, but it hasn’t been too bad, certainly in comparison to last year.” 

Donaldson expressed another issue, too, that she describes as affecting communication between students and teachers: email addresses. “Faculty and staff – we only have @howard.edu on our emails, we don’t have @bison. So students send emails to faculty and staff – cdonaldson@bison.howard.edu, and I don’t get the emails…”

Along with these challenges, students have also expressed their share of difficulties following the end of this first week.  

Praise Ekomwen, a sophomore biology major, described experiencing issues with his schedule such as not having the correct math teacher for his class, “I know for my ‘calc’ class I didn’t get a professor – like he didn’t show up to class… and we got a new one but he gave us the run-around – like he’s not our professor. We don’t really have access to the things we need to start school for the semester, for at least calculus.” 

Camyrn Turner, a sophomore computer science major, described how three of her in-person classes were abruptly switched to online. One class was switched online on its first day. “It was the day we had class and we got an email saying, ‘Oh this class is online now,’ and it’s kind of unorganized.” 

In addition to these concerns, some have expressed worries about the lack of communication about the university’s stance with the spread of monkeypox and what steps it will take to ensure that the disease doesn’t spread across campus. 

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Copy edited by Alana Matthew

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