Tasha Feng

Seattle U Counseling Petition

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Tasha Feng
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To: President Sundborg, Provost Martin, Executive Vice President Leary, Vice President Sturdivant, Dr. Kidder, Dr. Vong, Dr. Taylor, and Dr. Leibsohn

This petition is in response to serious academic concerns with the counseling program, in addition to your plan to continue online instruction for our program while prioritizing Fall quarter in-person instruction for undergraduate students. As aspiring counselors, we feel strongly this has a significant detrimental impact on the quality of our education, particularly for a profession that specializes in in-person services to our society. We are advocating to, at a minimum, have adequate meeting spaces in the Fall quarter for some of our classes, as well as to significantly improve the quality of instruction regardless of class format. We feel that the quality of education we have received so far neither meets CACREP standards nor justifies the program’s high tuition. Seattle University is a private institution with incredibly high tuition rates and significant financial contributions from the government. We expect and demand better faculty advocacy for students, especially knowing that the quality of our training will influence the quality of care we will be able to provide.

Here are the ways the counseling education department has failed to provide adequate, CACREP-aligned instruction:

  • Inadequate class time: Courses have failed to deliver 30 hours of contact time consistently, with classes frequently ending early or being cancelled and/or being divided into two 1.5 hour “sections.” (Violates CACREP 1.J)
  • Class sizes: With two sections delivered simultaneously by one instructor, some counseling classes have effectively been doubled in size (up to 60 students/class). (Violates CACREP 1.T)
  • Lack of technological competency: Lack of clear organization of Canvas modules, assignments, etc; Teaching materials and files are sometimes excessive without consideration of students’ limited time and energy for screen time outside of class; Some syllabi did not align with rubrics and instructions; Obviously inadequate training for non-core faculty. (Violates CACREP 1.Z and 1.AA)
  • Inadequate, non trauma-informed courses/course content: Courses have failed to deliver some, or all, CACREP-required content; Course material is not selected nor delivered from a trauma & equity-informed lens.
  • Inadequate asynchronous classes: Asynchronous courses have lacked depth and failed to deliver quality learning experiences. Some counseling courses originally scheduled to be delivered as synchronous learning experiences wound up delivered asynchronously with little to no notice to students. Many classes had no clear or organized instruction for subjects that are controversial, subjective, and/or ambiguous, and no class time opportunity for clarification or expansion of textbook material.

We conducted a short, anonymous survey for counseling students at Seattle University regarding their feelings about Fall quarter instruction. We had 58 total respondents. For a quantitative analysis of students’ feelings regarding in person learning, follow the link here. Based on consistent themes we captured from the survey results, here are our demands:

  • Transparency: Clearly state your rationale and anticipated equity impacts for your decision to prioritize undergraduate students over graduate students in regards to in-person learning opportunities. Clearly communicate how in-person class limits are decided—are these tied to the reopening Phases for King County? Or is there another public health metric being used? Moving forward, we want a commitment that the administration will actively and accessibly survey for students’ preferences before decisions for classroom instruction modes are made and during the planning process. Furthermore, we ask that faculty, advisors, and counseling program administrators hold themselves responsible for remaining transparent, engaged and responsive to students’ concerns.
  • Provide clear and specific criteria for determining whether courses for Winter quarter will be in-person or hybrid: At what point will full capacity in-person classes for all graduate programs be a reality? What public health metrics, if not vaccinations, are needed for full (or higher) capacity classes to happen?
  • Provide fair and appropriate alternatives: If a hybrid option for each cohort is not an option, prioritize having all lab/skills classes in-person over theory classes.
  • Actively create more interpersonal opportunities to build supportive relationships: Seattle U’s counseling video has a 3rd year student saying, “We get a great opportunity to build some very strong relationships…there’s a really big investment in us.” This statement for us now could not be farther from the truth.
  • Tuition reduction to reflect online modality and to reflect the cost of other online programs: We ask that this tuition change be applied retroactively, and going forward suggest a four-tiered tuition structure, with no change in number of credits per class, from high to low:
  1. Fully in-person courses (30 students max, 30 contact hours/section)
  2. Hybrid courses (at least 1 in-person course option, 30 students max, 30 contact hours/section)
  3. Fully online, synchronous courses (30 students max, 30-hour contact hours/section)
  4. Fully online, asynchronous courses
  • 2020-21 tuition refund to reflect student experience and lack of quality education we have received to date:
  1. 50% refund or future credit for future classes where two sections were combined/delivered simultaneously with one instructor, effectively doubling class size counter to CACREP standards regarding instructor to student ratio
  2. 75% refund or future credit for courses that were changed from synchronous to asynchronous with no notice to students
  3. 100% reimbursement for courses where CACREP material was not covered by the instructor
  • Pathways of recouping lost learning: We are asking that students are given a number of options to cover the knowledge gaps resulting from poor instruction and instructor quality at no additional cost to students. These options could include allowing for no-cost auditing, seminars taught by core faculty, or other mutually agreeable options. We expect the department to clearly work out this process and present it to students before the end of Summer quarter.

We understand that the university is navigating an unprecedented level of challenges in its attempt to provide an equitable learning environment for all of its students. However, we are not satisfied with the level of transparency from our administration and do not feel that we are in fact getting equitable consideration regarding resource allocation. We are asking for transparency, accountability, and active involvement of students in the decision-making process and during the planning process.

As an institution that prides itself on its commitment to equity and in providing quality education, it is our expectation that you continue to uphold such standards by meeting the demands outlined in this petition.

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