Support Georgia Southern University Students for COVID-19 Process Transparency

Support Georgia Southern University Students for COVID-19 Process Transparency

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Joanne Walker started this petition to Georgia Southern University

I am a junior attending Georgia Southern University. In my Spring 2020 semester, COVID-19 had a major impact on a lot of students. After classes moved online, in particular, many students without proper internet access suffered. Those with disabilities suffered. Those who do not learn well online suffered. There are many things I believe we students wished the university would have done better. It is too late to change how GSU acted in the spring, but it is not too late to change how they handle COVID-19 in the Fall.

Moreover, Georgia Southern University claimed to the Savannah news that they plan to resume face to face classes in the Fall and failed to mention to the newsource or students a contingency plan. The only sort of plan mentioned was to create a hybrid semester. According to GSU and the WSAV news report, they plan to keep the hybrid model “in their back pocket” just in case we need to move online. Some students would attend class one day while others studied online and the next day it would alternate. If this is the only plan Georgia Southern has, then the future of our degrees look grim. 

In addition, if the university were to deem moving online fit, we need a plan for students who have accommodations. In the Spring, students enrolled with the Student Accessibility Resource Center lost accommodations granted to them by doctors and by the University. This includes, a quiet testing place, extra time on tests, flexible attendance and more. To add insult to injury, these students get to register for classes earlier than everyone else to ensure they get the class that they need. For many, that means face to face classes. Although moving online may be unavoidable, GSU needs a backup plan for students who need face to face classes and are enrolled in SARC. 

In the same manner, it is vital that GSU addresses how we will be refunded if classes move online. Right now there are a lot of students registered for face to face classes and have accepted financial aid for the Fall. If we will be taking hybrid classes at any point in the semester, or if classes move online again, I expect to pay for the price of online or hybrid classes. Otherwise, we are allowing the university to rob their students who spend years paying off debt and parents who help pay for college out of pocket. In other words, this was a big problem in the Spring that the university has had time to figure out for the Fall. 

To add insult to injury, in the Spring students were forced to stay in classes, use a limited withdrawal, or in some cases, fail. In the coming Fall semester GSU should expect students to want to withdrawal from courses that they cannot complete online. This should not affect students in any way. If we only get six withdrawals to last until graduation, and we take up to seven classes a semester, the penalty during a crisis situation is unfair. Especially to incoming freshmen who have never taken an online course and to everyone else who may not have enough withdrawals left to avoid online classes. This is something that has to change if classes move online again. 


Nevertheless, there are many things GSU needs to address before reopening in the Fall that they failed to address in the Spring. These issues could be the deciding factor for some students who are unsure if they want to attend class in the fall. It could also be the deciding factor for students unsure of a double major due to harder classes being taken online such as courses that have a lab requirement. Georgia Southern is not taking into consideration all that is at stake with the future of our degrees. It appears the university is not taking this seriously.  It would be best to address these issues before the Fall 2020 semester begins. All issues should be addressed directly to the students and the parents first, not a news agency outlet.

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