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Draft LMS Policy is a giant lump of coal for faculty and students

“Lump of coal” is the most suitable-for-work way I can describe the terrible draft policy on LMS usage I received today. I can’t find anything about this policy on the EVP’s website despite the memo indicating them as the “Policy Owner,” so I’ve put a digital copy up here if you’d like to read it; you can also see the text of the draft policy and memo where John Jay Professor Andrew Sidman has posted it. Which means that this draft policy is being shared not on the EVP’s website, but on the CUNY Academic Commons, a platform that CUNY created for research, teaching, learning, and connecting across all of its campuses, which currently has 46,723 members, and which the draft policy would prohibit faculty from using to teach their students. This is honestly too much irony to handle during finals week.

Which brings me to the question of the timing of this draft policy process. The timing is so specifically bad as to imply either a complete obliviousness to university schedules or a desire to avoid meaningful discussion about the policy with key stakeholders such as instructors or students. The draft policy was circulated to the CUNY colleges on December 13, with feedback requested by January 30. To an outsider, this timing might seem okay, if a little short for the consideration of a major policy. But anyone who has spent any time in higher ed can clearly see this is the policy equivalent of a Friday news dump– only six weeks, with no notice, at a time of multiple holiday celebrations and then into January, where faculty are often busy with their research and preparing their classes for spring and students are in between classes and not on campus. It is hard to believe that the EVP of the nation’s largest public urban university did not realize how limiting the timing of their rollout would be, so it seems more like an attempt to sneak this policy in with minimal scrutiny, instead of a genuine good faith attempt to gather feedback from the CUNY community on important questions of teaching and learning.

Because of this terrible timing, I don’t have time to write out the reasons I think this draft policy would be extremely damaging to teaching and learning at CUNY, at least not until I finish grading. Rest assured, as soon as I finish giving my students feedback on their excellent work (wherever they have chosen to share it this semester), I’ll make the time to write about the privacy, academic freedom, equity, and basic dignity problems for both teachers and learners that abound in this draft policy. I don’t yet know what to do, but I know that doing nothing is not an option. If you’ve got ideas for how to oppose this draft policy, please tag me in!