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Why this petition matters

Started by Max Garcia

*Photo above is of the Currie Gym during an exam

I am starting this petition on behalf of my friends. I strongly encourage you to read this message in its entirety, as this petition is meant to try and regain some sort of safety for McGill students in exams. 

This semester, McGill University has had in-person learning opportunities for any class with less than 150 students. This policy was put in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this did not mean much for many students. For those who may not know, McGill is known for having many classes with numbers much higher than 150--ranging from 300 to 400, 500, and even 600 students in some instances. Therefore, despite McGill claiming that they are in-person, this is not the reality for many. And I have spoken to many who have most (and in many cases all) of their classes online this semester. 

In light of these safety measures, which are especially important given the resurgence of a new variant of COVID-19, it would make sense that those who continue to attend 'Zoom University' would have their exams online as well. 

But this is not the case.

First-hand accounts of students returning to campus for in-person midterms report sitting in a crowded lecture hall with hundreds of their peers, scribbling their answers as they rub elbows with their neighbors. Only to find out a few days later (by email from McGill) that they have been in contact with a reported case of COVID-19. It is almost expected to receive this news under these conditions. 

How can McGill University rationalize their decision to have in-person exams when they've been telling the same people that it wasn't safe for them to learn the material in person?

As we move into final exams this week, McGill has decided to continue with in-person exams for large classes, despite the students learning the material online in the name of their 'safety'. Exams will be held in the Currie Gym and Fieldhouse, both notorious for holding hundreds of students at a time during exam season. 

In order to dull students' (ongoing) fears, the university has issued a list of safety protocols in an attempt to provide some sense of safety.

You can see the full list of safety protocols at the link above, but some highlights include the provision of masks and hand sanitizer for students when they arrive, assessing ventilation based on exam room capacity, and two personal favorites: 

1) "Disinfecting wipes will be available in each exam room for students who wish to clean their seat and desk before the start of the exam". Are measures not being taken to ensure that the spaces are cleaned after every exam? Is it up to the students to decide if they care about their own safety? 

2) The University also says students should not come to the exam if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. While this is indeed an important measure to note, the University is doing nothing to accommodate students who may be feeling sick. Their only option (according to the website) is to take a deferred exam. These deferred exams often happen very far after the student has learned the material, and typically occur during University-wide breaks. 

Why would someone want to do this? Yes, you're telling students not to come to campus. But then you're giving them no compensation for their decision. This policy will encourage students who may only be a little under the weather to come to the exams and inherently facilitate the spread of COVID-19. Who wants to take an exam for a class that ended months prior?

I could expand further on the many issues with these measures and the University's handling of other COVID-19-era policies, but I'm afraid that it would be far too long for this type of description. 

The moral of the story is: McGill needs to accommodate their students, and it seems that the administration is far too separated from them to understand what that means. 

The school must be held accountable.

Exams should be online if the class has been online all semester. 

It is sad to end this message by saying that I just hope the word gets out and people find out about this because I know the University will never take concrete action. 








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