MFT Program Student Petition for a Virtual and Safe Spring 2022 Semester
MFT Program Student Petition for a Virtual and Safe Spring 2022 Semester
Why this petition matters
900,000 American lives lost.
We are still in a pandemic, and unlike what President Parham stated in his address today it is not endemic. Yes, eventually and hopefully it will be an endemic disease, but it is not now. Making policy decisions that affect student health based on future hopes is irresponsible. Likewise, the President stated that the campus is a safe environment due to precautions, and people are getting COVID off campus. That is the issue in itself. That people will become infected and then infect one another. This statement ignored the students and our legitimate issues with being on campus, and determined that our voices, and experience mean nothing to the university because they have decided what’s best for the university and students do not factor in.
From the New York Times, “More than 2,600 Americans are dying from Covid-19 each day, an alarming rate that has climbed by 30 percent in the past two weeks. Across the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has now claimed more than 900,000 lives” with deaths yet to peak.
We were asked us to show that it was reasonable to go online, and that it followed the rationale of our department which we did in our previous emails, calls and our petition. Now to clarify, we are asking for the MFT program to remain virtual for Spring 2022. We are not asking for the entire university to remain virtual. We know that virtual is possible in our program as at least one of our classes is going to be taught virtually because of the needs of the professor. We ask why the needs of one professor have been listened to, and yet the request of hundreds of students is being denied. We are adults and graduate students who are going to night school for 6 hours at a time. Offer us respect and honor that we know what is best for our spring semester. We have used our limited energy and time to affect this change because it means so much to us all. We are united in our desire and cannot be divided by strawman arguments. Some students have already been affected by the decision and have delayed taking classes in spring for fear of exposure and will have delayed graduation as a result. In our department we stand united in asking for this semester to remain online. We have done our part in making our voices heard by calling, emailing, faxing and signing a petition with over 280 signatures. We are exhausted and demoralized in the state of our department, college and university. We did this at a cost to ourselves because we need this, and we need the university to give it to us. The university serves at the pleasure of its students and wants to offer them the best experience, and listening to the students is the best way to do just that.
What happens to our learning, mental health and sense of safety when our classmates are inevitably infected? What happens when our professors are infected? How will we have a good learning experience? The six hours of instruction right after work with no eating or drinking will affect our energy levels. Moreover, it will inevitably result in improper mask wearing with people taking off their masks for a drink of water or congregating without masks during rushed breaks to eat.
How will we feel supported and get good grades and not fail our classes, which in our department is not an F but a B-, when we will be in an environment of fear? We also fail if we miss more than two classes. Our learning is going to be impacted by all of these conditions. We will all be in close contact with one another and if one of us tests positive we should isolate and be in fear that in that meantime we have spread the infection in our homes to our loved ones. We are under enough stress just surviving in a pandemic. We do not need in person instruction, and we have 280+ signatures stating we do not want it at this time. The university is willfully creating a situation in which people will be forced to come to class infected so as not to fail. Students are afraid to fail, miss classes, and have to pay additional tuition to retake them again. Those of us with disabilities and preexisting health conditions will be at greatest risk and are supported in the desire to remain virtual by our classmates and department.
The university needs a sufficient, if not excellent, plan for:
-COVID-19 data dissemination:
Weekly campus COVID case emails sent too not just employees, but students as well.
-Quarantine following exposure
Currently, we do not have trust in the university keeping us safe on campus. The university's plan has not included considerations that affect us, while we have done our part in making our concerns known and clearly asking for what it is we need at great energy and time expense to ourselves.
Part of our work is advocacy and so we use this letter to help you to understand that staying virtual is what we need. We ask you to listen, and we ask you to act to protect us, our mothers, our professors, and our community. This decision to go in person will affect people’s lives for generations. You have the opportunity to save lives, reduce illness, and create a sense of safety for your students. We humbly ask you to consider continuing virtual learning for the MFT program in the spring 2022 semester.
The MFT Program Graduate Students
--Vox Veritas Vita--
Below is the content of our original petition, and we ask again for the MFT department to continue virtually for the Spring 2022 semester.
The school’s statement of intent to continue to in-person instruction was released on December 31st, a day when in Los Angeles there were a staggering 27,037 thousand reported cases. This high level of transmission will result in more sickness, death, loss of income, medical bills, long COVID, which will all impact the community for years to come. This is the most transmissible variant by far and evades immune defense from vaccine and prior infection. Its spread is so rapid that even the lower percent of severe cases will overwhelm hospitals. This is a collective threat to those of us who were always more likely to be hospitalized, though it remains a lower individual threat for those who were always more likely to fair better. We ask that the considerations be made to protect the most vulnerable, and not take the stance that the pandemic is over, spread is inevitable, and the deaths of the weakest is unavoidable. The university has the keys to our future success, but is not setting us and our loved ones up for safety. The power dynamic is such that if we do not feel safe our only choice is to suspend our studies. The university is putting us in an impossible position. The MFT department students have asked to remain online since the change was announced last semester. It has been a fully virtual program that has protected us, and that safety has created a positive learning environment. We ask for it to remain so for the spring semester along with the 20% of programs that remain virtual.
Pandemic fatigue is real and understandable, but policies guided by this put others at risk. Though CSUDH has made plans for increased testing it is likely many of the cases will spread though Omicron’s shortened incubation period where one can test negative one to three days before and still infect others. Many in the MFT program may not be able to access testing on campus being evening students. Furthermore, it remains unclear if there will be contract tracing on campus to track the movement of the virus and warn those who have been exposed. The protocol and support for those students in isolation and quarantine when exposed to someone who has tested positive, as well as testing positive themselves remains unclear. Additionally, insufficient ventilation in classrooms that have been used all day by other students who may or may not be testing, vaccinated, or wearing quality N95 masks properly, increases the risk of exposure to those of us coming in for evening classes. Though sanitizing is a good idea, it is unlikely to stop the spread of COVID. The risk lies in the transmission through the eyes and the respiratory tract. The fear, anxiety, and inevitable infections will have a detrimental effect on our learning. Graduate school is difficult enough without the reality of COVID infections on campus.
Even before Omicron the school was planning to be in person this semester. The issue now is not how for many people it is less severe than Delta, the issue is that its transmissibility is so great that in a school setting there are guaranteed outbreaks and breakthrough cases. Many of us in the MFT program live off campus and are in contact with at risk individuals. It is a certainty that some of us will get COVID by attending in-person classes this semester, and that we will spread it to others. Many of us in high-risk multigenerational households, we implore you to reconsider having the MFT program on campus this semester. We do not want to have protected our loved ones all this time to then have them be exposed to COVID. We do not want to be forced by the university to have to make a choice between our health, our family’s lives, and a master’s degree. The MFT students voiced our concerns repeatedly last semester to remain online for the spring and were not heard. We ask you to please listen to these concerns and offer a virtual option for those of us for whom this pandemic is an existential threat.
The notion that those with Omicron are “fairing well” is problematic. They are not dying in mass on ventilators, but more than 1000 are dying each day. More still are receiving subpar medical care in overrun hospitals. And more still are suffering and scared at home trying not to infect their entire families. The reality of long COVID or mild COVID cannot be summed up by the sentiment that one is “fairing well.” The NIH defines mild illness as those who experience fever, cough, sore throat, malaise, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of taste and smell, but do not have breathing issues. Students experiencing these symptoms are unlikely to learn well and are likely to suffer. We do not want this generation, and this community of future mental health workers to be physically and mentally affected by infection for years to come. We are in a global mental health crisis and those of us who are going to do this work deserve to be given a chance to come out of this pandemic having been protected by our school so that we can meet this need.
Many students in the MFT program who save each semester to afford to pay the tuition. Many of us do not have insurance and cannot afford medical treatment for even mild COVID. Likewise, long COVID is a risk of any COVID infection where the debilitating symptoms can last for months and even years. Any COVID infection, no matter how mild, carries with it real risk. Those of us who have limited access to medical care are at a great risk and getting care or government assistance as an uninsured individual for long COVID has been illustrated to be extremely difficult. We do not want to see this community suffer because we decided to get an education at an institution that put our safety and needs second.
Lastly, the idea that a COVID mitigation policy can be decided on the basis that most will fair well is harmful. There have always been those who were asymptomatic. It was never them we were protecting. We aim to protect those who are not going to fair well. We, the students in the MFT program are those at higher risk being older, working multiple jobs, and living in multigenerational households. We are vulnerable and we are asking for you to listen and allow us to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. Part of our work is advocacy and so we use this letter to help you to understand that staying virtual is what we need. We ask you to listen, and we ask you to act to protect us, our mothers, our professors, and our community. This decision to go in person will affect people’s lives for generations. You have the opportunity to save lives, reduce illness, and create a sense of safety for your students. We humbly ask you to consider continuing virtual learning for the MFT program in the spring 2022 semester.
The MFT Program Graduate Students
- President Thomas A. ParhamCSUDH
- Chancellor Joseph CastroCSUDH
- Dean Mi-Sook KimCSUDH
- Dr. Michael LaurentMFT Department Chair