The circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have produced extraordinary and rapid changes to undergraduate life across the nation, and UNM is no exception. University faculty have worked quickly over the past weeks to move their classes online, adapting course delivery and assignments in an effort to preserve instructional continuity.

In its March 24 Resolution on “COVID-19 Emergency Measures for Student Success,” the Faculty Senate committed the faculty to offering flexibility, communication, and support for students during these challenging times, and authorized them to facilitate the CR/NC (credit/no credit) grading option for the remainder of the semester. While offering some relief to students seeking to complete their courses successfully, the CR/NC option has led to many questions regarding the timing and options for grading student work. More than 3,000 students have used the online Student Needs Assessment Survey noting a wide range of issues – and students have reported a variety of concerns to faculty, advisers, and student resource staff.

In response to these issues, the Division for Equity & Inclusion, in coordination with the Faculty Senate and Offices of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, has identified the need to create the COVID-19 Student-Faculty Facilitation (SFF) Network. The SFF Network is a streamlined network for rapid response to student academic concerns relating to the transition to remote web-enhanced during COVID-19, providing individualized accompaniment as well as systematic support to students as needed.

Students are encouraged to reach out directly to instructors about flexibility and the CR/NC option, yet if they need additional support, they can reach out to the SFF Network. Staff in resource centers and the associate deans in colleges and schools are also available to help support students. In addition, a central Student-Faculty Facilitation Coordinator can receive, triage, and track student requests, and at least two senior faculty designated as Student-Faculty Facilitation Liaisons, this SFF network will allow the University to address problems that arise from new online instruction modalities in real time. 

“The SFF Network is built to facilitate communication between faculty and their students who may face unprecedented barriers toward their academic success during these extraordinary times,” said Vice President for Equity & Inclusion Assata Zerai. “This service offers students additional support and guidance to navigate this process and contemplate an informed decision.”

Student concerns may include, but are not limited to, difficulty getting a timely response from an instructor; need for alternative, asynchronous assignments; clarification of grading policy under the Senate Resolution (CR/NC and soft opening); and request for extension or accommodation due to illness. The network is intended to serve primarily undergraduate students, but may also include graduate and professional students whose coursework or lab research has been impacted by COVID-19.  Student concerns arising primarily from ADA, Title IX, and other protected status would be addressed in cooperation with the appropriate university offices.

Students wishing to access this service should contact the Student-Faculty Facilitation Coordinator. The deadline for students to decide on their grading option is May 21.