January 31 marked the return to in-person classes for several UC schools, which has caused mixed reactions for students. As some are eager to return to campus, others staged a walk-out. Members of the UCLA Disabled Students Union are pushing for a permanent hybrid learning option.
UCLA returned to in-person classes today, but not because of the protesters. The university says it received threats of mass violence by a former lecturer, Matthew Harris, who has since been found and arrested in Colorado. The college will be resuming in-person classes again on Wednesday.
“Until our needs are quite frankly met, students will continue to be on strike at Murphy Hall,” says Breeze Velazquez, president of UCLA Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC). “This is a matter of accessibility.”
She says students should have the ability to Zoom in if they’re feeling sick, have other obligations, or live with family members who are immunocompromised.
“I did have a professor last quarter who offered both an in-person and a remote option, should students be sick … and it was really helpful to have that option,” she says.
Accommodations are available and can be arranged through the Center for Accessible Education, but there are reports that the department has been overloaded with requests and slow to respond. Plus, accommodations are determined by federal law for accessibility, so not everyone is eligible.
“For things like ‘I have small children who can't be immunized’ or ‘I live with someone who's immunocompromised,’ those kinds of accommodations are not covered by federal law,” says UCLA Academic Senate Chair Jody Kreiman.
Her department is working on developing procedures for providing that kind of “accommodation with a little ‘A,’” as she puts it, but that will take time.
In the meantime, Kreiman says she can’t force teachers to provide a hybrid classroom experience, and the solution is not as simple as turning on a Zoom camera. Some classes are hands-on or discussion-based. Others deal with sensitive topics that could cause harm if recorded and shared online.
“The issues that students raise are good ones, but the kinds of things that we have done to respond to an emergency are not good long-term fixes,” she says. “They lead to classes that are not efficient, to learning loss, and to just generally undermining the academic basis for curricular design.”
Velazquez and other students plan to continue meeting with Kreiman, Chancellor Gene Block, and Vice Chancellor Monroe Gorden this week.
UCLA sent KCRW this statement regarding threats of violence
We are greatly relieved to share that law enforcement officers in Colorado have taken into custody the individual who made threats against some members of our UCLA community yesterday.
While the campus will continue with plans to keep instruction remote today, with this development, we will return to in-person instruction tomorrow.
The threats made yesterday were frightening for many of us and caused our community to feel vulnerable at an already challenging time. We know many Bruins turned to one another for support. Campus counseling is also available at 310-825-0768 for anyone who needs additional care. These are unsettling times and your well-being is a top priority, so please do not hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.
We also wanted to address some reports of gunshots heard on Hilgard Avenue last night. LAPD investigated and found no evidence that gunshots had been fired.
We offer our deepest thanks to UCPD and other law enforcement agencies for thoroughly investigating these threats as soon as we learned of them and for coordinating to locate and arrest the individual in Colorado. We also want to thank all of you for checking in on those around you. Compassion and care for one another are the hallmarks of a true community.
Suzanne L. Seplow, Ed.D.
Assistant Vice Chancellor, Student Development and Health
Michael (Mick) Deluca
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Campus Life