UK faces communication challenges going in to fall semester

By Alexander K Brinkhorst

29 July 2020

On June 16, the University of Kentucky released it’s fall restart playbook which included a plan for a return to in-person classes and characterized online classes as a “contingency plan.” But it now appears that the school is relying more on that contingency.
On July 18, the University updated myUK and students discovered that their classes may be taught in person, online or as a hybrid of the two.

“I was mad that I had to find out through another student through social media instead of from my college itself that they made those changes without telling me,” said Lindsey Lockheart, a Sophomore civil engineering major.
Lockheart currently has three hybrid and two fully online classes. Lockheart explained how she had found out that classes had changed from someone else’s Snapchat story, before she heard about it from the university. Lockheart says she was not notified by UK about her classes changing until a week after she already found out.

“I was mad that I had to find out through another student through social media instead of from my college itself that they made those changes without telling me,” said Lockheart.

Lockheart also says she felt as though UK had stepped around the issue of whether or not students would be meeting primarily on campus.

“I don’t think they ever lied to us, but I think they purposefully worded around it,” said Lockheart. “Like they said we would be on campus, but they didn’t say in what regard we would be. They just said we will be on campus.”

The communication gripes were shared by Hunter Ford, a Sophomore Biology major, who also saw changes in his class schedule before there was an announcement. Ford thinks communication doesn’t have to just be in the form of a mass bulletin.

“It doesn’t have to be one of those mass emails we get from President Capilouto, it can just be something as simple as a teacher sending an email to the whole class or something like that,” said Ford. “Make them a little more personal.”

With a number of classes going online, communication will be more digital than before. This changes the way professors and students keep in touch. Dr. Allison Burkette, Professor of Linguistics and the Director of Graduate Studies in the linguistic department, explained how she moved her classes online this past spring.

“So I tried to transition it, and trim down the readings and just focus on more busy powerpoints,” said Dr. Burkette. “I just did the best I could that way, because I didn’t think there was a way for 70 of us to interact synchronously and remotely.”

Beyond the classroom changes, Ford expects that campus is going to be different this fall.

“There is still going to be activity on campus but like, I feel like a lot of things are not going to be the same,” said Ford. “A big one for me is I went to the football games every weekend, every home game and that's just, as far as I know, not going to be a thing this year.”

While administration can plan out and provide answers to solve the issue of higher education within a pandemic, it is up to students, faculty and everyone involved to follow those provided guidelines. Lockheart isn’t certain that students will follow the recommended guidelines.

“ I think there will be a stark two sides of it,” said Lockheart. “There will be students who think all these regulations are completely unnecessary and there will be on a complete opposite side students who believe we will need these regulations, and I think the minority will be the people who don’t take it seriously, because a lot of people realize if you don’t take it seriously you can lose this college experience.”