Towards the end of August and early September, Southern University, along with the rest of the state of Louisiana, was impacted by Hurricane Ida. The hurricane left its mark on all inhabitants of the state. During this time, campus was fully closed the week of Monday, August 30th to Friday, September 3rd.
Following this devastating event, Dr. Karen E. Crosby, Dean of the Honors College, hastily met with other academic faculty to discuss a makeup policy due to the missed days of campus closure. Proceeding to September 24, students and staff received an email informing them of the new makeup schedule, with a goal of recovering instructional time lost during the week of the hurricane.
Initially, many students expressed their dissatisfaction with the new schedule because it not only took away the fall break, but added a few Saturday classes also! Sophomore class president, Kanarie Smith, a nursing major from Jackson, Mississippi, felt it was slightly unfair that the fall break was being taken away because she was looking forward to resting those days. She expressed, "Although I know we need them, it was sad to hear because I was looking forward to that break because school gets hard sometimes, so I was mentally prepared for a break."
Senior class Vice President, Myhlan Davis, majoring in agricultural business, and from Memphis, Tennessee, expressed the same feelings toward the new schedule. He stated, "I don’t think they should make us come to school on the weekends because people’s schedules are already pre-thought out." Myhlan highly opposed the additional instruction schedule because it also created conflict in his already established plans.
Numerous others looking forward to that mental break over the weekend and during the fall break are now disappointed and left trying to rearrange homecoming preparations, family time, and work scheduling. A number of students are under the impression this plan wasn’t entirely thought out. The question that now arises is: were the additional instruction dates chosen in consideration of student schedules, activities, and mental health in mind?
The decision to add on days was a collaborative decision between the faculty, and everyone was engaged. Head of Academic Affairs, Dr. Bijoy K. Sahoo, reached out to reassure the students that "Every decision we make has a compliance side, but there is also an integrity side.”
Dr. Sahoo stood firm that the compliance side has to be done in any situation. He stated, "First of all, we are required by regulation to add those days.” He also emphasized it was important that the set number of days of student engagement according to the board be met. However, on the integrity side, Dr. Sahoo fought to make sure the decision was also mindful of other conflicting events of students and staff. He reassures students with conflicting schedules that, according to the handbook, "There are always exceptions for these kinds of situations: if there is a death in the family, if you have a military engagement, if you are participating in a university-sanctioned activity, including athletics, all of these can be documented and the faculty will provide accommodation to the students."
The other proposal that was considered was extending the semester into the winter break, which meant a shorter break, more money for the semester, and even more unhappy students and staff. Therefore, the official makeup instruction days as enclosed in the email are: October 4, October 5, October 9, October 16, October 30, and November 6. The campus will be operating as normal on October 4 and October 5. If faculty desires to be in-person on Saturdays, the university will be operating as normal.