In 2019, the CRLT Players launched its first full-season run of It's in the Syllabus and Other First Generation College Student (FGCS) Experiences, a session that asks audiences to reevaluate their assumptions about who they think FGCS (e.g. students who are the first generation in their family to go to college) are. When creating the piece, we aimed to fill a very specific gap in university support. Both the research literature and people's lived experiences indicated that most generally staff fill the role of supporting FGCS, not faculty. While staff support is important and of known benefit, when universities focused only on what staff provide, they left out an important part of students' experiences on campus: the classroom. Our session invited instructors to rethink their classroom practices (including curriculum, assignments, and procedures) from the perspective of FGCS, and charged them to actively increase transparency and foster belonging for them. [For specific ideas on how to support FGCS in the classroom, see CRLT blog post.]
By spring 2020, the global pandemic has unsettled life for almost all students and greatly widened systemic inequities. The measures undertaken by universities (the emptying of residence halls and the switch to remote, online learning, for example), while certainly understandable, make life harder for many FGCS, especially those with intersectional low income backgrounds. [See Center for First-Generation Student Success: "A Resource: Impacts of COVID-19" for more.] The CRLT Players are currently undergoing revisions and considering different formats for presenting It's in the Syllabus that would better help instructors support FGCS in the current remote instruction COVID-19 world. While they might look different than they typically do, we are committed to providing imaginative learning experiences for instructors that will increase equitable teaching measures and more fully hold space for their students.