The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Department of Criminal Justice Studies

Photo collage of Dr.King Banaian, the Dean of the School of Public Affairs (left), Dr. Lee Gilbertson (upper right), Dr. Dick Andzenge. Photos courtesy of Danae Swanson, Communications and Outreach Director 

Written by: Reine Kouakou

The Department of Criminal Justice is one of the four departments in the School of Public Affairs. The department offers various programs such as a BA in Criminal Justice Studies, a MS in Criminal Justice Studies, Pre-law, a MS in Public Safety Executive Leadership, and Minnesota Law Enforcement Licensure Training (P.O.S.T. Skills).  

St. Cloud State University has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, the pandemic has an impact on the Department of Criminal Justice Studies. Indeed, according to Dr. Dick Andzenge, one of the full-time faculty members, the pandemic affected classes’ delivery. St. Cloud State University decided to offer four different class formats such as In-person courses, Blended/Hybrid courses, Online courses, and Hyflex courses. 

It is noteworthy that Dr. Lee Gilbertson, one of the full-time faculty members, said that the Department of Criminal Justice Studies has voted to offer all courses in the Hyflex format until the pandemic is under control.  

According to Dr. Lee Gilbertson, the Hyflex format “offers the greatest freedom for the student, but it ties a professor to mandatory classroom instruction (in-person).”

Hyflex means that all three formats are available from which a student may choose. A professor gets no such choice.

“I must be in the classroom providing “In-person” instruction while simultaneously broadcasting “synchronous” (Zoom) instruction to students who participating from home,” said Gilbertson,  “then put the same materials up on D2L, so other students can access it online (“asynchronous”) and complete it whenever they want to.

Dr. Lee Gilbertson said that he does not give points for attendance, but he keeps track of students’ attendance.  

Dr. Dick Andzenge stated that the pandemic impacted the availability of faculty to engage in research and to connect with each other. Indeed, some faculty make some arrangements to teach their classes from home. Therefore, they do not have to come to campus.  Dr. Andzenge declared that the use of technology is challenging. During his classes, he had some issues with Zoom and the pandemic affected students’ participation in academic work. 

Dr. King Banaian, the Dean of the School of Public Affairs, said that during the pandemic, it was important to him to ensure the safety of faculty, staff, and students. Therefore, he made some arrangements to give faculty and students the choice between coming to campus or not. Dr. Banaian argued that the pandemic affected human connection and the ways people interact with each other. Dr. Banaian also asserted that he got the same budget for the School of Public Affairs as previous years before the pandemic. Furthermore, according to Dr. Banaian, St. Cloud State University spent additional money for equipment and for sanitizing the buildings. 

The pandemic also affected student opportunities. Taiwo O., a student in the Department of Criminal Justice Studies.

“It affected my internship opportunities since most offices were closed when I wanted to start my internship,” said Taiwo.  

The pandemic affected  students who applied for OPT and CPT, but also those who graduate and look for jobs in the criminal justice system. 

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