Last updateWed, 14 Oct 2020 1pm


Pass/Fail Grading System

default article imageThe Pass/Fail grading system, introduced in the spring semester after the University shifted to remote learning, will continue into this semester.

Lynn Reynolds, Monmouth’s Registrar, reported that the majority of the grades that were requested to be switched to a pass last semester were C grades ranging from C- through C+ with 775 pass requests. There were 26 pass requests for grades A- and above, 471 requests for grades B- through B+, and 323 requests for grades D- through D+.

Due to online learning, students have had to face new obstacles. Eleanor Novek, Professor of Communication, said, “Right now some students are having a lot of difficulties managing the stresses in their lives, while others are feeling inconvenienced but not really struggling. Faculty are trying to support and care for our students through these strange times, and the Pass/Fail option is one avenue available to help with that.”

Novek continued, “It is too soon for me to say whether that particular option is affecting performance.”

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University Community Reacts to Changes in Job Market

University CommunityAs a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects, members of the University community and beyond are reacting to changes within the job market.

In the current job market, which has seen a shift largely to online formats, students and educators are attempting to navigate the unique situations created by the coronavirus crisis.

According to a report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in April, 42 percent of employers plan to shift to some degree of virtual recruitment. Additionally, 23 percent of college career centers plan on going exclusively virtual for “[facilitating] employer recruiting interviews.”

William Hill, M.A., Director of Career Services, spoke to The Outlook about how his job has changed since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The services of my office have gone 100 percent virtual due to social distancing rules and other COVID protocols,” Hill explained. “Fortunately, we have been able to continue to deliver quality services and programming, one-on-one counseling and career advising to students, just as before. While I miss being on campus and seeing students face-to-face, the important thing is we are able to fulfill our mission of delivering the help students need when they need it.”

Kristine Simoes, APR, Specialist Professor of Public Relations, said, “It’s all harder for everyone—grads and those with experience—because of the economic downturn. The first six months of the pandemic were uncertain. Job searches were put on hold or redirected as businesses moved to online; that makes it all different.”

Simoes, a member of the Department of Communication, also explained how students in the field have unique advantages when it comes to the adjusted interview processes.

“The interview process requires connections to leadership and a well-polished online presence,” she said. “It also commands outstanding communication skills, like recognizable verbal ease. Communication minors will be key to helping every student’s major transition to a career.”

“Most interviews are being conducted via Zoom,” Simoes said, referencing the video-chatting app which has become ubiquitous in the job market. “Zoom interviews require today’s grads to know public speaking and have all the answers to all the questions. They are difficult and most jobs require three to four interviews for each job opening. Students need the ability to answer questions in well-stated, concise sound bites, which requires communication. Hiring on the spot is rare.”

Hill remains optimistic about his advisees’ prospects. “People are still getting jobs during COVID. In fact, over 600,000 jobs were added to the economy last month, and unemployment dropped to 7.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course that is still high compared to pre-COVID times,” he conceded, “but we seem to be heading in the right direction.”

“Fortunately,” Hill said, “we live in a very employer-dense part of the country, with northern New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia all close by. This helps anyone looking for a job in this area.”

Simoes echoed Hill’s sentiment, saying, “There’s a lot of opportunity for communication grads who want to pursue positions with IT, coding, and digital content backgrounds.”

“It also means cleaning up your social media and focusing on professional transitions to the new fields,” Simoes advised. “Graduates need references from professors or bosses, fantastic online resumes, impeccable writing skills and samples, relentless positive attitude, and presence.”

“I’m hoping for a return to something approaching normalcy should an effective vaccine be developed in the coming months,” Hill said. “In the meantime, we must stay safe, socially distanced, and supportive of each other.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Anthony DePrimo

The Resilient Generation: Millennials Bore The Burden of The Financial Crisis, Now Grads Are Greeted by COVID-19

Resilient GenerationMillennials, the generation defined by Nielson Media Research as adults between the ages of 22 and 38 years old, have faced two significant setbacks in their already short lives: the COVID-19 Pandemic and the 2008 Financial Crisis.

Few members of the millennial generation succeeded in making economic gains during the recovery after the The Great Recession of 2008, CNBC said, and the group had tapped into their retirement savings, began to rely on high-interest loans and racked up student debt to compensate.

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic looming for the foreseeable future, the U.S. economy is not expected to fully recover until 2029, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. For the second time in their short lives, a consistent millennial future has been stunted.

“A large proportion of the public remains bullish on their financial outlook despite any hit they may have taken during the outbreak,” Patrick Murray, Director of the independent Monmouth Polling Institute said in regards to a June poll concerning life returning to a “new-normal” post-covid. “That seems to be based on the expectation that they will quickly bounce back.”

As of Oct. 12, at least 214,000 people have died in the United States due to Coronavirus, with more than 7,728,000 cases reported.

Many fields and general ways of life have made the move online during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the University’s own teaching methods. Employers have begun to offer learning sessions over Zoom in order to better indoctrinate the soon-to-be millennial graduates to a contemporary online workplace.

Rekha Datta, Ph.D., Interim Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, joined President Patrick F. Leahy Ed.D., in an open call to students at the start of the fall semester that detailed the University’s transition online.

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Climate Change Lecture Held Virtually

Lecture DeliveredWill Burns, Ph.D., Co-Executive Director of the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy at American University, delivered a lecture, titled “Antacids for the Sea: The Potential Role of Ocean Alkalinization Enhancement in Combating Climate Change,” that explored the potential role of the ocean in mitigating climate change, on Monday, Oct. 12.

The talk was held virtually, co-sponsored by the Monmouth University Institute for Global Understanding (IGU) and Urban Coast Institute (UCI) to launch their 2020 Global Ocean Governance Lecture Series.

“It’s really exciting to have Will here to help us kick off this series,” said Tony McDonald, Director of the UCI. “It’s an exciting time to think about the oceans; we hear about the problems like acidification and pollution. But I think we fail to fully appreciate the role oceans play in everything we do, oceans are the lungs of our planet, and incredibly important to our future.”

Burns began by reviewing the aim of the Paris Agreement: to keep the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. “However, if you look at the pledges, we are not on track for these temperatures and now project temperatures could rise from 3.2 to five degrees Celsius by the end of the century,” he said.

These temperatures could damage human institutions and ecosystems. A three to four degree increase in temperatures could cause the coral reefs that provide sustenance for a third of the ocean’s fish to disappear by the end of the century, endanger 60 percent of the world’s   species, result in a reduction of crops, especially in the global south, and cause disease, Burns explained.

To mitigate these consequences, scientists have begun looking at ways to lessen carbon dioxide (CO2) levels after reaching predicted temperature thresholds through climate geoengineering, defined by the Oxford Geoengineering Program as the large-scale intervention in Earth’s natural systems to offset climate change.

A broad overview of approaches was presented, including solar radiation management, microbubbles, ocean iron fertilization, and ocean alkalinity enhancement. The solutions were largely theoretical, with some studied by way of localized field experiments. Each had benefits and risks associated with it, but the procedure of ocean alkalinity enhancement emerged as a more promising solution.

“Chemical weathering is a natural process that continuously erodes away rocks in our landscapes and sequesters [isolates] all the world’s carbon dioxide over the course of millions of years,” Burns said. “Enhanced ocean alkalinization is a process that’s intended to accelerate this by adding alkaline substances to seawater to enhance the ocean’s natural carbon sink.”

Basically, ocean alkalinity enhancement seeks to increase the ability of the world’s oceans to store CO2 and can be done in two ways.

First, adding alkalinity to the ocean, using silicate rich minerals like olivine, removes CO2 from the atmosphere through a series of reactions that converts and dissolves CO2 into stable bicarbonate and carbonate molecules, Burns explained. “This causes the ocean to absorb more carbon dioxide from the air to restore equilibrium.”

Another way to increase ocean alkalinity is to accelerate the weathering of limestone by dissolving limestone in a reactor with sea water of CO2 rich gases and reintroducing the water into the ocean, Burns suggested.

A beneficial byproduct of enhancing ocean alkalinization is that it might address ocean acidification occurring as a result of rising sea levels, but the extent to which it would occur is uncertain, Burns added.

Similarly, studies differ on how much sequestration of CO2 would occur using this solution. “They have different methodologies, assumptions of the scales at which we might be able to deploy this, and as a consequence, conclusions vary widely,” Burns clarified. “One study found we could draw down CO2 by 30 parts per million and others have indicated that by 2100 we could reduce levels by 160 to 450 parts per million.”

On top of lacking concrete results, ocean alkalinization enhancement might disadvantage organisms that couldn’t process the alkalinity and it could cause spontaneous precipitation of calcium hydroxide, damaging coral reefs and contaminating food by releasing minerals like nickel and iron, Burns assessed.

For years, solutions were focused on carbon capture used for energy and de-forestation and reforestation, but they are thought to be unsustainable large-scale. These issues have led scientists to consider the potential role oceans play in climate geoengineering.

Randal Abate, Director of the IGU and professor of political science, described Burns as having the “expertise perfectly situated to kick off the series.”

Burns is regarded as a national and global expert in climate geoengineering, pursuing cutting-edge initiatives, explained Abate. Burns’s research agenda includes climate geoengineering, climate damage, and the effectiveness of the European Union Emissions Trading System.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University

Campus Event Sparks Political Debate

Campus EventA campus event, titled “Make Abortion Illegal Again,” has sparked a political debate and controversy about free speech on campus in a mass email chain sent to the University community.

The event was hosted virtually by the Catholic Campus Ministry on Tuesday, Oct. 6, and featured a presentation by Kristan Hawkins, founder of the non-profit, anti-abortion organization Students for Life of America.

In response to the event, The Gender Studies and Intersectionality Club sent an email to Monmouth students, faculty, and staff on Friday, Oct. 9.

The email, sent on behalf of club president Alisse Aquino, stated, “We, the Gender Studies and Intersectionality Club along with other students, faculty, and alumni dedicated to women’s and trans+ rights, are alarmed that The Catholic Campus Ministry hosted a virtual event titled ‘Make Abortion Illegal Again’ this week. We strongly condemn this event. Reproductive rights are imperative to all people who may become pregnant and should not be up for debate.”

The email said that students who attended the event reported the guest speaker shared misinformation and was unwilling to have an open dialogue on the topic of abortion and reproductive rights.

“The event was insensitive and degrading to our students who have needed abortions and to those who may need them in the future,” Aquino wrote. “We assert that this program fails to align with Monmouth University’s mission of promoting diversity, inclusion and equity for all campus members.”

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University Health Services Emphasizes Flu Season Safety

Flu SeasonAs the COVID-19 pandemic continues into flu season, health officials are emphasizing safety precautions to reduce the spread of both respiratory diseases.

“It is extremely important to be protected against flu this year as influenza can greatly impact your immune system, making you more vulnerable to other viral illnesses such as COVID,” wrote Director of Health Services, Kathy Maloney, in an email.

“It is definitely more important than ever with COVID-19 around to get a flu vaccine,” said Jeffrey Weisburg Ph.D., Specialist Professor of Biology. “Being infected with both viruses could be catastrophic to an individual’s immune system and health.” Weisburg said that the only members of the community who should not receive a flu vaccine are those who experience an allergic reaction from it.

While the influenza circulates all year, flu season occurs in the fall and winter, peaks between December and February, and can last until May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends that people receive their flu vaccine in September or October.

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University Clubs Explain Virtual Operations as Cases Rise

Virtual OperationsUniversity clubs and organizations will function virtually through Tuesday, Oct. 20 as part of a series of measures enacted to increase safety and mitigate virus spread in the campus community, Leahy announced via an email update on Friday, Oct. 2.

Leahy implemented the operational changes on Tuesday, Sept. 29, but the timeline for virtual meetings was extended by a week in response to an increase in confirmed cases and students in quarantine, over the course of the week.

In Tuesday’s email, Leahy wrote, “It is imperative that our students take needed precautions in their social interactions both on and off campus to prevent the spread of this virus.”

Many campus organizations have plans in motion to conduct tasks virtually and recognize the added safety measures as necessary.

Brittany Macaluso, Co-President of the Social Work Society, believes that the precautions in place are absolutely warranted, and present the Social Work Society with a unique opportunity to extend their reach.

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University Among Top Peace Corps Prep Schools

Peace CorpsThe University has been named the fifth-best Peace Corps Prep school, according to the organization’s 2020 list of the top schools that issue certificates.

On Sept. 30, the Peace Corps ranked Monmouth the number-five Peace Corps Prep institution in the country, along with Mercer University in Macon, GA. According to the Peace Corps, Prep certificates are received in programs designed specifically around the Peace Corps experience, preparing the candidate for deployment. In 2020, Monmouth awarded 28 Prep certificates.

Deborah Rothermund, Assistant to the Peace Corps Prep Program, said, “The goal of the program is to give students experiences that will enhance their Peace Corps applications.” By making their applications more competitive, students are more likely to be accepted into a deployment program. However, the website notes that a certificate is not mandatory to be accepted.

“The program is also meant to provide opportunities for like-minded students to develop relationships and ultimately earn the Peace Corps Prep Certificate,” said Rothermund.

Frank Cipriani, Director of the Peace Corps Prep Program said, “One aspect of our program that is important to note is that our Board consists of people studying multiple disciplines. When I talk about ‘relevant’ majors to the Peace Corps program, I mean some you wouldn’t necessarily think of, like art.”

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University Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic HeritageHispanic Heritage month is celebrated at Monmouth University from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the events have been conducted virtually.

The Hispanic Heritage Month planning committee has worked to create events that help students understand and support the Hispanic community—not just at the University, but everywhere. Past events include "Urban Bachata: The Black History of Bachata Dance", "Racism and Colorism within the Latinx Community", and "But I Am Both: An Afro-Latinx Dialogue."

One figure behind the planning of Hispanic Heritage Month is Zaneta Rago-Craft, Ph.D., Director of the Intercultural Center. Rago-Craft, along with students, faculty and staff began outlining the month’s events in early August. This year, the committee faced the difficult task of transitioning all the events to a virtual experience, but Rago-Craft did not view it this way. She viewed the planning process as “an exercise in creative thinking."

The COVID-19 pandemic did not slow Rago-Craft's interest in hosting events, including closing keynote addresses by Dolores Huerta, an activist and labor leader who co-founded what would become the United Farm Workers. Rago-Craft credited social media with playing a huge role in the promotion of events, allowing “[them] to have greater reach than what we may have experienced with just a print campaign.”

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President Leahy Updates Protocols as Cases Soar

Protocols 1President Patrick F. Leahy Ed.D., outlined a series of changes to campus operations and health protocols in response to a rise in confirmed University cases, in a video message on Friday, Oct. 5.

“Over the last week, we’ve seen a concerning increase in the number of cases, which led… to a whole series of protocols that would help to restrict the amount of activity on campus and hopefully mitigate the spread of this terrible virus,” Leahy said.

These protocols, detailed in an email sent to the campus community on Friday, Oct. 2, require all courses other than labs and clinical experiences to be delivered remotely until Friday, Oct. 16. Clubs, organizations, and intramural/recreational activities must also be conducted virtually.

“At the end of that two week period, we’ll roll right into the fall break,” Leahy said. “We have decided that we will keep our fall break this year. We feel it’s important to give you students that opportunity to restore and to re-energize for the second half of the semester.”

During this time, Leahy “urges” students not to travel in any way over the fall break. Students who are living in residence halls, off campus homes, apartments and commuting should stay home during this period, Leahy said.

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University Polling Institute Explains Voter Doubts Over Election Outcome

Voter Doubts  Americans have observed the growth of voter distrust in the outcome of the November presidential election, including the prospect of foreign meddling, the possibility of campaign cheating, and a belief in the existence of “secret voters” who will materialize on Election Day, according to a recent poll published by the University’s Polling Institute on Sep. 10.

  The poll’s findings suggest a small but sizable number of voters could be suspicious of the election result, regardless of winner. About 6 in 10 voters are confident the November election will be conducted fairly and accurately, yet another 24 percent are not too confident and 13 percent consider themselves not confident at all in the integrity of the election.

  “Of course, most voters believed that Clinton was going to win four years ago and they accepted the different outcome,” The University Polling Institute’s Director Patrick Murray said. “But the reasons why voters think Trump will win again suggest that some may not accept this year’s result if he loses,”

  U.S. President Donald Trump recently declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the Nov. 3 election and said he expected the election battle to end up before the Supreme Court.

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Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151