75°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Interview with Gail DiSabatino

March 27—With a closed campus and online classes becoming the new reality for students at UMass Boston, it was only fitting to conduct an interview with Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Gail DiSabatino over Zoom, an application very similar to Skype.
Claire Speredelozzi: How are you today?
Gail DiSabatino: You know, I’m doing okay because each day is an adventure since we started this journey of remote learning!
CS: What is your opinion so far of total remote learning? From what you’ve heard.
GD: Well, I’m not teaching a class and I’m not a receiver in a class—I’m not in a class—so I don’t know that I’m the best person to ask about the learning environment right now, but what I can tell you is that I think outside the classroom experience of student leaders that have really been stepping up to try to keep the community together and that’s kind of cool. We still have a ways to go and I think it’s challenging to communicate because there’s so much that needs to be communicated and to sift through it all, that’s a big challenge for students and for us to make sure you know what’s going on. But for the most part all the resources students are used to for out of the class, that aren’t familiar with, seem to be going alright or good. You know like, they’re just getting through it, the first week or there are others like SAEC [Student Arts and Events Council] have already had some events. And the Fitness Center has already had some of their fitness classes online … There is a lot going on to help support students through this process and I think we need to get the communication down.
CS: I have some questions that I don’t know if you can answer, hopefully you can.
GD: I’ll try my best.
CS: Who is the main person/group/committee making the final rules for the decision to go completely online and everything?
GD: So, these decisions—many, most decisions—have been made at the system level. That’s with the president [Marty Meehan] and the chancellor deciding together. When we decided to take the first step towards, what was that, a two week period that we were going to do online learning? Then the decision to go for the rest of the semester. These were all decisions that were made together with the other chancellors and the president’s office. Some of the smaller decisions, that how we do our work, in our various departments were somewhat up to the departments to decide the best way to do that work.
CS: Do you see the policy’s getting stricter within the next month? Like making sure everyone is off-campus or completely closing the campus down because I know the campus is still open, isn’t it?
GD: Well, we’re open for business. But the buildings are all closed and unless you’ve been cleared as an essential personnel through your supervisor and up through HR you have to remain off-campus. Then, we do have less than 100 students who are in the Residence Halls who have received waivers to stay. They need to have those spaces. They’re residents right now.
CS: Where should people go for updates?
GD: If you go on the university’s website there’s a tile right as you open it up. It says, ‘Coronavirus: information for coronavirus’; and that will take you to a special site that we’ve developed just for what’s going on right now. For students, there’s a button on that site that’s for students and that has all the FAQs. We are updating those FAQs daily so we want people to check back on a regular basis where there’s a few places where we say, ‘We just don’t know, we’re working on it but once we get it resolved we post it there.’
DiSabatino also said to make sure to watch the UMass Boston email as updates will also come via that channel. Other important insights include counseling is now available online and clubs are still holding meetings, online as well.