Deadline Extension & Student Concerns Regarding UNH's Student Informed Consent Agreement

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We, the students of The University of New Hampshire and supporters of those students, ask President Dean and Provost Jones to push back the deadline for signing the Student Informed Consent Agreement to at least August 7th, answer all questions posed by students regarding the signing of the document, and provide students with a list of what classes will be available to take online.

These requests are based on the following:

On July 17th, all students of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) received an email with a link to the new Student Informed Consent Agreement (SICA) and were informed that the document needed to be signed within the next week. The content of this document and the speed at which it is required to be signed have raised many questions and concerns from the student body that need to be addressed before students can decide whether they want to sign the SICA.

The SICA, which is attached in an update below, is a document that outlines the changes that will occur at UNH on campus in the fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this document was intended to be signed by students to confirm that they were informed and consented to the changes being made at UNH in the fall, many students have found the document itself to be lacking and the following questions are just a few of the questions that have been asked by students:

  1. What are the requirements for pre-arrival testing? (e.g. Should the testing be viral or antibody testing? How recent must the results be?)
  2. If students live close to UNH or in off-campus apartments, can they get the pre-arrival testing on campus before participating in classes, research, or other on-campus activities?
  3. If a student tests positive for COVID-19, under what conditions will UNH advise students to go home? When considering whether a student should go home, how will the university consider the potential risks of a student exposing family members and community members in New Hampshire and surrounding states?
  4. If UNH transitions to remote learning, will all students be tested or have the option to be tested prior to returning home?
  5. Will students who are in quarantine dorms or who test positive be allowed to remain in housing until they can safely travel and go home without spreading the virus?
  6. How will students be contacted if they are required to have a COVID-19 test?
  7. Will there be a way for professors to be officially notified when a student will not be able to attend classes due to waiting for testing or being quarantined? If not, what are students supposed to do if a professor doesn’t trust that they are actually sick?
  8. Will the university have a clear policy that eliminates academic punishments for not attending classes thereby reducing the incentive to go to class when sick?
  9. Will the university have a way to report professors or on-campus employers who are not accommodating about missing class or work due to nonspecific symptoms, COVID-19 testing, or waiting periods after testing.
  10. While there are plans in place to provide online options for students who are quarantined, why are these same options not available for students who do not feel safe coming to campus?

When signing SICA students either sign “Yes, I agree to the terms to be on campus” or “No, I do not agree and wish to take all classes online”. This is a problem because there are no definitive answers as to what classes are online and what classes are only on-campus. Students cannot decide if they will return to campus or not without knowing in what format all classes are offered. Therefore, we are requesting a clear breakdown of what classes are offered online before students are required to sign this document.

These concerns and more have prompted students to write letters to President Dean and Provost Jones about SICA. This petition was created after one such letter was posted to Facebook and gained attention and support from many students. This letter is attached in an update below. There are many students concerned that their questions will not be addressed before the deadline to sign SICA. Because of that, students feel pressured to sign a form even though they lack the information to fully understand the consequences of their signature. 

Therefore, the goal of this petition is to push back the deadline to sign the Student Informed Consent Agreement to at least August 7th, provide a document that details clear information about what classes are offered online, and to make sure that the questions and concerns of students are being answered and addressed by President Dean and Provost Jones.