Faculty Senate Passes Policy Recommending Asynchronous Instruction On Election Day
Update, March 30: It was clarified that the legislation was not a new policy, but an amendment to the Faculty Senate’s existing attendance policy. The policy will only strongly recommend – not require – that professors and faculty members teach asynchronously on Election Day.
In class formats where it is “not feasible” for asynchronous instruction to take place, such as labs or classes that only meet once per week, faculty may use their discretion. If a student does miss an in-person or synchronous class on Election Day, professors “should provide, within reason,” the opportunity for students to make up that day’s activities.
Original Story: At its March 28 meeting, the University Faculty Senate approved a policy that will require professors to teach asynchronously on Election Day in November.
In the 2016 presidential election, Penn State saw a voter turnout of 56%, which increased to 69% in 2020. The 2018 midterm elections saw turnout drop to only 36%. Statistics have not yet been released for the 2022 midterm elections, but it is a repeated trend that voter turnout dips in years that do not have a presidential election. Student voter registration rates at Penn State hover around 85%.
Many students are faced with the decision to skip class and face the consequences or simply not vote in November’s general election. The new policy will ensure that no in-person or synchronous instruction will take place.
It will still be acceptable for professors to record or post asynchronous content for the day for students to complete, as long as they will be able to finish the assignment within the time “after the voting polls close.”
Additionally, it is recommended, but not required, that professors reschedule the date of exams or “high-stakes assignments” to a different day.
University Park Undergraduate Association President Sydney Gibbard championed the bill, but it has been a long time coming. During her final general assembly meeting in a farewell address to representatives, Gibbard noted that the asynchronous day of instruction had been in the works for over seven years.
The new policy will be strictly for November’s general election, not May primaries or UPUA elections.
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