Campus to Re-Open Next Year; NLRB Bolsters Grad Student Unionization Prospects | Newsletter for March 31

In the March 31st, 2021 newsletter, university administrators announce they plan to re-open campus next quarter.

By Matthew Lee, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Good morning. It’s first week. Spring quarter is here—like summer, but with more work! You can read our digital edition here.

President Robert Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee Lee announced that the University is planning to hold the 2021–22 academic year entirely on campus.

  • The reopening will entail a return to full operating capacity for University housing and dining, in-person instruction in most classes and labs, the resumption of study abroad, and a combination of in-person and virtual career advising.
  • An on-campus vaccine clinic for University employees and students with preexisting conditions opened Monday, March 29, as Chicago entered Phase 1c. For students without conditions, vaccination will become available during Phase 2, which is scheduled to begin in May.

Daily tutoring can double or triple the amount of math that high school students learn each year according to research out of UChicago’s Education Lab.

  • The findings come as schools grapple with the challenges of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, including significant learning loss among students and the acceleration of preexisting educational disparities between school districts and socioeconomic status.
  • By providing personalized instruction in accordance with the school curriculum, students were able to complement school lessons with intensive mentorship and help.
  • The study also suggests that the positive trends from intensive tutoring are substantial and long-term.

Political journalist Alexi McCammond (A.B. ’15), who was slated to take over the role of editor-in-chief at Teen Vogue on March 24, resigned from the magazine before her start date over backlash against racist and homophobic comments she made on Twitter between 2011–12.

  • The now-27-year-old McCammond made her name while working as a political reporter at Axios. She covered the 2018 midterm election and Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
  • The tweets in reference included languages about stereotypes of Asian people and derogatory uses of terms targeting LGBTQ communities.
  • In 2011, when she authored the offending tweets, McCammond was a first-year QuestBridge Scholar at the University of Chicago. She studied sociology and wrote for the undergraduate political publication The Gate.

Four UChicago professors are founding members of the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending academic freedom in higher education.

  • The Alliance, officially launched on March 8, promises to support faculty who feel their academic freedom is in jeopardy, with legal action if necessary. Its members include faculty from colleges and universities nationwide.
  • Founding member and Law professor Brian Leiter emphasized that AFA is necessary because public universities are susceptible to external pressure from the political realities, and internal pressure from sensitive college students.
  • Another founding member, Geophysical Sciences professor Dorian Abbot called UChicago “the gold standard” when it comes to academic freedom on college campuses, citing the Chicago principles that the University committed itself to.

On March 12, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it would withdraw a proposed rule that would have said that students at the graduate and undergraduate levels whose schools compensate them for their services are not employees.

  • The now-withdrawn rule, which was proposed in 2019, would have severely damaged the unionization efforts of graduate students at private universities.
  •  At private universities, unionization among graduate students did not accelerate until 2016, when the NLRB allowed graduate students at Columbia to form a union. Since then, graduate students across the country, including Graduate Students United (GSU) at the University of Chicago, have attempted to unionize in order to advocate for better working conditions.
  •  Laura Colaneri, a member of GSU’s communications committee said that the change of the rule represents a positive trend for graduate student unionization. As of now, GSU’s advocacy uses a strategy of caution, with more focus on policy changes that result in immediate benefits instead of shifting political tides.

Also in News: 

  • The Maroon talked to four UChicago YouTubers about vlogging their college life.
  • One year after lockdowns closed all student-run cafes, The Maroon also caught up with Harper Café employees about their last days on the job.


In Arts

Editor Veronica Chang writes in:

UChicago Classics professor Shadi Bartsch has released a new translation of the Aeneid.


In Grey City

Editor Laura Gersony writes in:

Across the country from the University of Chicago, a small Maryland liberal arts college is a vision of what the University of Chicago might have been. The “Great Books” curriculum of St. John’s College shares its intellectual roots with UChicago’s core curriculum, but the two institutions have since moved in different directions.


In Sports

Editor Alison Gill writes in:

The Maroon track and field team returned to tracks and fields last month, kicking off in-person competition in Hyde Park for the first time in a year.