by Kaylee Franklin
With the spring semester nearing the midway point and less than 100 days to go until summer break, students are feeling the weight of this pandemic school year.
For Erica Wigart, associated student body president, her number one priority has been making sure that students feel heard and advocated for.
“My main goal this year has just been to listen to people if they ever come to me with different concerns and just advocate for them,” said Wigart. “If I’m experiencing something a lot of other people are probably experiencing that as well.”
When it came down to evaluate the efforts of the fall semester, Trevecca administrators sat down with the COVID-19 student advisory board, a focus group of students working with administrators sharing the good and bad highlights revolving the semester. The focus group worked with administrators to discuss plans for the spring semester in hopes to relieve some of the stresses of the split seven weeks.
A big part of evaluating the fall semester was using data from the National Survey of Student Engagement also known as the NSSE, a survey used to gauge student participation at universities relating to learning and engagement.
“In looking at the data from the NSSE, Trevecca really scored favorably compared to the national statistics on our students and moving through the pandemic,” said Tom Middendorf, university provost.
When looking at the surveys the overall tone from Trevecca students was really encouraging despite the rushed semester.
“They reported feeling rushed and not having enough time for ideas or content to marinate,” said Leana Welch, dean of the school of arts and sciences. “We decided that there were some classes that needed to be all semester, whether that be music, religion, or foreign language.”
In deciding to move some classes to sixteen weeks, administrators knew that to continue to contain the spread of COVID-19 on campus, classes would need to remain in a split module format.
The next question the advisory board began asking for was longer week modules, thinking it would help spread assignments and allow time to process content. After weeks of planning and discussion, administrators decided to make this spring semester two modules each with having eight weeks and eight study days spread throughout.
Study days were added in place of no spring break and to give students an opportunity to pause, reflect and process what they’re learning, according to the Back Home to the Hill Plan found on Trevecca’s website.
“I know we’re all tired right now, but this is what is needed to stay on campus for in-person classes,” said Wigart. “Try and use your break days well. Knock out homework at a coffee shop, go on a secluded hike with your roommate. Take that time and spend it how you need to but really lean into those days.”
Finishing out the rest of the semester is important and as we reach a year of the pandemic, administrators are already beginning to talk about what the next school year holds.
“We’re listening to all of the health professionals, we’re hopeful that at the very least our faculty will be vaccinated by next fall, and our desire is to be back at fifteen weeks for the fall,” Middendorf said. “We’re going to move heaven and earth to do that we just need to make sure we do it in a safe way.”