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09 DEC 2021
1. A growing number of US universities are mandating COVID-19 booster shots
Several universities, such as Syracuse and Notre Dame, now require booster shots in order to enter or remain on campus, with policies differing in how they handle the requirement of indoor masks for staff, faculty, and students. Some require a booster shot but are less strict about indoor masks for those vaccinated. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Hampshire College, and Smith College are among other universities considering stricter policies to combat the pandemic. With reports of Omnicron cases in the University of Southern California and Tulane, it is expected that more universities will mandate the booster shot for COVID-19 in coming weeks, depending on the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.
Crimson’s Take: We support precautionary mandates on college campuses, seeing as last year universities became hotspots for COVID outbreaks. Taking the necessary actions to ensure the safety of the students, staff, and faculty on campus is especially important with the new COVID variant, which is why it's great to see many US universities prioritizing safety over anything else. We are hopeful that the benefits of returning or staying on campus are incentive enough for most students to comply with these new policies.
2. The Biden administration supports Harvard and urges the Supreme Court to reject the case against the university concerning affirmative action
Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a group that opposes Affirmative Action, requested last month to expedite their hearing against Harvard’s current use of race in the admissions process. On Wednesday, the Biden administration urged the Supreme Court to decline the case against Harvard's racial admissions policies, and to keep in place the university's decades-old policy of promoting diversity in higher education. Harvard responds in a statement that the administration’s position in this matter affirms that schools “should have the freedom and flexibility to consider race, as one factor among many, to create the diverse campus communities essential to their educational missions and to the success of their students in the workplace and the world.”
Crimson’s Take: We believe Harvard’s consideration of race is well-intended and aligns with its efforts to build a diverse student body, and we can appreciate that the university’s admissions process aims to nurture applicants from marginalized groups who may not otherwise get an equal chance at admission. Every qualified student deserves a fair shot at a top-notch education, and for that reason, we support Affirmative Action for its intended purpose, to ensure adequate representation of minorities in higher education.
3. California schools are implementing mastery-based learning reforms to improve equity
School districts in California are working on new strategies to help students re-engage and improve their chances of getting into the state's public universities. Director of Strategic partnerships at Policy Analysis for California Education, Alix Gallagher, believes that “Instruction is what leads to learning. Not grading. They’re separate. That’s the problem — we have a disconnect between instruction, learning, and grading”. The tactic will drop D and F grades in an effort to encourage students to deeply learn course material and not be deterred by a low grade that could discourage them from applying to universities.
Crimson’s Take: We have seen first-hand what young people are capable of when they are immersed in an educational environment that is positive yet challenging. We recognize that these are complex issues - and that solutions are not as clear-cut as they should be. As an organization that believes in leveling the playing field for students everywhere, we see this movement as a positive step towards increasing access to higher education and helping students realize their potential.