To: CAS Chairs and Directors
From: Joe Bizup, CAS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs and Policies
Subject: RE: Following up on July 29th Letter to CAS Faculty
Date: August 4, 2020
On July 29, I sent a letter to the CAS Faculty to express my support and suggestions for faculty to begin communicating the formats of their fall courses to their students. I tried to express my condemnation of a pandemic that creates an environment that propagates people saying negative things such as “hundreds of thousands of people are dying” and “Outback closed.”
Many of you read that letter and have told me I did not do a good job, and I hear you loud and clear. Your concerns have pushed me to reflect on what is most important to say to you at this moment. So if you will allow me one more opportunity.
With the start of classes just over a month away, we invite you to communicate with your students about the formats of their courses for the fall semester. Students are nervous about returning to campus, and understandably so—a lot of you are struggling to stay safe, healthy, and secure, and students are scared you will bring down the mood by telling them about it. Students are, first and foremost, children. This memo offers guidance on how to communicate with them as such.
Guidance for Communications
Crafting these sorts of communications can be rhetorically challenging because they must work not only to inform students of how fantastic and perfect this fall semester will be in which no hiccups will occur and students will receive the exact experience for which they had hoped, but also to be positive, and by positive, I mean Oprah on Prozac. Here are some suggestions you may find helpful.
Lie: Truth is relative, and who’s to say what’s true and what isn’t? If students feel that their concerns are understood and empathized with by their professors, they will think their concerns have merit. As such, please avoid words like “difficult” and “inconvenient” and use other words, like “easy breezy” and “hella dope.”
Because masks and social distancing will make peer-to-peer conversations during class time difficult, you will be asked to participate in peer-to-peer conversations via Zoom outside of scheduled class time.
Masks are awesome, and if you consider masks “necessary” or “important” as opposed to “totally rad,” then you’re a loser. I actually wore masks before the pandemic, so you could call me a trendsetter. You’ll also have to do hangouts with the friends you meet in our class via Zoom, but it’s chill, dawg, because you’re hanging out with friends you’re just now meeting during a pandemic. It’s amazing what the Internet can do, right?
Don’t offer any reasons for students to try to “rationalize” or “understand” your decisions: Let’s face it: BU students are not intelligent adults. If you try to explain that you’re teaching an entirely remote class because you’re immunocompromised, they’ll get confused because they have the IQ of an acorn. Don’t answer any of their questions, and while I’m on that topic, don’t ask us any either.
We considered several options for structuring this course, and we have settled on a combination of mini-lectures, which will frame each class session, and student-led discussions, to allow for critical consideration of the course material, as the best format given our challenging circumstances.
Classes will be cool, and I’m smarter than you dipshits, so trust me.
Don’t give students relevant information about the university-wide fall teaching format: BU Today broke the news of Learn from Anywhere to the BU community, and by referencing LfA in your email, you are undermining the popularity of BU’s best news source. Professors make mistakes. BU Today does not. Since BU Today takes the time to individually email the most important information about BU to every single community member every single day, we urge you not to step on their toes and ruin their seamless distribution of LfA information.
The University has developed a hybrid model for delivering its courses called “Learn from Anywhere.” In this model . . . [lengthy explanation]. In keeping with Learn from Anywhere, our course will have the following features: . . .
The University has developed a new educational model for Fall 2020. Three words. Five syllables. First word. Sounds like… [mime turning a steering wheel]
Use your own words, unless those words are words I don’t like: In my previous email, I suggested avoiding words such as “value” that might make students think about things like the value of the education they’re getting. I would like to expand my list of banned words below:
- – Strange
- – Unusual
- – Uncertain
- – Different
- – Coronavirus
- – COVID-19
- – Pandemic
- – Hybrid
- – Remote
- – Asynchronous
- – Time zone
- – Masturbation
- – Boston
- – University
- – Learning
- – Professor
- – Syllabus
- – Education
- – Rimming
- – Classroom
- – Fartsicles
I am sorry that I disappointed so many of you on July 29. Like you, I am sickened by the lack of positivity that has spread and continues to spread in our country. In my letter, I spoke like the Associate Dean I was trained to be: delighted and aroused by every single decision made by the BU Administration. Today, this letter is from my heart, and my heart is with all of you who are annoyed by the constant yapping and whining about people’s “living situations” and “health risks.”
If you have further questions about how to address your students under these guidelines, please do not hesitate to reach out. I’ve recently changed my email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number to (696) 969-6969.