U of L students start petition to keep classes online for remainder of spring term
An online petition asking the University of Lethbridge to make a formal decision on whether classes will be in person or online has garnished over 1,300 signatures since Friday.
Classes were expected to return in person on Jan. 24 but that has now been pushed back until the end of February due to COVID-concerns.
“They were like 'yeah, we're going to put it off for another month’, at that point it felt like we were having half the semester online and then less than half of it in person, it was just frustrating,” said William Baliko, a fine-arts student at the U of L.
The petition was launched by two U of L students, Baliko and John-Paul De Haas.
The petition is asking the U of L to move online for the remainder of the semester, including exams. Following the return on Feb. 28, students would only be in person for five weeks before final exams are set to take place.
The students union says students want to see accommodations made including a full refund for UPasses for parking.
“We understand that these decisions have to be made, however when they are, they do have serious financial repercussions and learning implications for students,” said Holly Kletke, president of the U of L’s Students’ Union.
Due to the uncertainty around in-person learning, many students also want to see the deadline extended for students to add or drop classes.
“Students who thought they were going to learn in person now are not and so that could have implications for their learning,” said Kletke.
The unpredictability of online learning is also causing some struggles for those not from Lethbridge.
“My big concern is with students who will be living outside the city of Lethbridge, who may not want to come in for five week of face-to-face learning and some final exams, that may not be, to some students, worth the stress and cost for all that,” said De Haas.
On Friday the university says the hope is that the peak of this latest COVID-19 wave will pass after the four additional weeks online. But students say they're tired of flip-flopping between in person and online learning.
“I have had to completely reorganize my work schedule in anticipation of being online. Setting all those up again, possibly on a whim isn't exactly easy,” said Amanda McGaffin, an accounting student in the Dhillon School of Business.
The petition is asking the U of L to move online for the remainder of the semester, including exams.
CONCERNS NOT BEING HEARD
Students feel their concerns aren’t being heard.
“I feel like student voices haven’t been heard. I feel like we get the generic email of like, ‘we’re sorry things are happening’, but I feel like nobody has actually reached out to us and asked, ‘how do you guys feel, what do you want to do moving forward?” said Michaela Crump, a neuroscience student at the U of L.
“I was really happy when this petition got put out cause I feel as inconvenient as it is to be completely online, I think it’s the best option because students know what to expect for the rest of the semester,” said Crump.
In a statement from the U of L, it reads in part,
“Planning throughout the pandemic situation has been extremely challenging and has been guided by one overriding factor, how the University can best give students the academic and social experience they have come to expect from the University of Lethbridge in as safe and healthy a manner as possible.”
“At every turn, the university has strived to look ahead and give students as much information and certainty as possible so that they are able to make plans as it relates to their academic futures.”
“The one certainty is that the university will continue to plan with the health, safety and well-being of the entire campus community as its guiding principle,” read the release.
The university says the online extension also allows students to learn regardless of isolation requirements, adding its imperative to keep everyone on campus safe and help limit the spread of Omicron.
If you would like to read the petition, you can view it here:
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