Petition update

Send An Already-Made Email With The YDSA's List Of Demands To WWU

Julia Ventura
United States

May 27, 2020 — 

Hello WWU community,

There have been numerous happenings since the start of this petition. Western Washington University’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America has been pushing 11 demands to WWU administration. Please join us in sending this letter to administration by clicking here

Read their letter here: 

We, the Western Washington University chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) are writing this with concern to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Placing many of us in financially compromising situations, university responses to this have been inadequate. From the lack of sufficient emergency funds as well as the disregard for a tuition reduction, WWU administration has not provided the support necessary to its students during these difficult times. 

We are taking this unique situation as an opportunity and obligation to hold powerful institutions accountable for the ways in which they should support their working-class student body. It is essential for WWU administration to prioritize the well-being of its workers and its students, and it can do so by implementing these demands. Here are our collective demands, with the full detailed version at www.tinyurl.com/wwucoviddemands 

 


WWU STUDENT DEMANDS 

1. REDUCTION FOR S20 TUITION AND REFUND TUITION FOR W20
When looking at the costs of tuition, it is crucial that we also compare the ways of in-class learning versus remote learning as well as the impact that this will have on all students. Many students have not attuned to the ways of online learning, and this strain is being shown on both students and staff. Much preparation is needed for an academically acceptable online course to run, but the nature of the C19 crisis has not allowed for this. Due to this abrupt shift to online learning without many students having adequate resources (online connections and school materials) to succeed, students deserve a reduction in tuition costs.
For a fair compensation to the student, WWU administration needs to use funds (whether this is from the $85 million endowments or by helping the push for more government stimulus funding to educational institutions), as a form of relief for students.. 


2. ABSOLVEMENT OF STUDENT FEES
While there has been a reduction in student fees for the Spring 2020 Quarter, many of these fees have stayed because they are used to pay off debts from building construction. Because WWU students and staff will not be able to access these buildings, this is essentially not a full service and students should not bear the full costs. In addition to this, we are also pushing for leniency with late payments, as so many people are losing income at this time. 


3. ENSURE HOUSING & DINING FOR ALL STUDENTS AND REIMBURSE FOR STUDENT MOVING COSTS
It is crucial that while taking remote classes, all students have access to a healthy and safe housing situation. We acknowledge that there is a shortage of on-campus housing, therefore it is Western’s responsibility to find affordable off-campus housing options for students. For the preparation of possible future crises, the university needs to develop a housing plan with a set of equitable policies--worked on with the collaboration of the most vulnerable and affected communities. In addition, dining hall services need to be accessible for all students at WWU--especially those with disabilities. Accessibility is a major issue here, and WWU needs to ensure that students are able to receive essential food services. 


4. IMPLEMENT THE UNIVERSAL PASS MODEL. NO STUDENT DESERVES TO FAIL DURING A PANDEMIC.
Many students are at risk, adding a great deal of stress to their lives during this pandemic. The universal quarantine protocols in place limit contact between students and professors and the added stressors will and are compromising student performance. This option serves as a more just resource for students who were heavily impacted during this time. This targets the fault of the Pass/Fail model, which may impact students looking to further their careers in a negative way, as grades are unfortunately built on a competition model. Until higher educational institutions come together in the state and write a statement for students to provide employers and other educational institutions, the university needs to support students academically. 


5. PROVIDE PAID SICK LEAVE FOR STUDENT EMPLOYEES AND SUFFICIENT WORK FROM HOME OPPORTUNITIES FOR UPCOMING QUARTERS, AS WELL AS HAZARD PAY FOR CUSTODIAL AND CONSTRUCTION WORKERS
Student workers such as Resident Advisors and specific program workers have lost their jobs during the C19 pandemic. Students that were able to keep their jobs are facing severe cutbacks on hours, and face job insecurity for the upcoming quarters, while costs of tuition and housing remain consistent. We have contributed grueling labor towards the university, and at the very least deserve job security and equitable pay.


6. REIMBURSE GRADUATION FEES AND SUPPORT SENIORS + GRADUATING STUDENTS
Graduating students need more support now than ever, and WWU needs to make sure their supervisors are accommodating to the ongoing circumstances. Due to this crisis, WWU has stated that seniors and graduate students are not receiving extended help for job searching. With job insecurity facing many people, there could not be a more crucial time for WWU to support its graduating students as they enter the job market. Because there is an online service for job searching, WWU needs to broadcast this effectively. 


7. GIVE ADEQUATE COMPENSATION AND SUPPORT FOR PROFESSORS/TA’S TAKING TIME TO ADAPT TO NEW LEARNING PRACTICES
Online schooling has taken a visible toll on not only students but instructors as well. A complete online shift has meant more work for our TA's and professors, and we demand that they are compensated fairly. There are not only difficulties in switching to online courses, but in addition, learning, and understanding the nuances of presenting information online.


8. ESTABLISH AN EMERGENCY FUND TO SUPPORT STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND STAFF
Although a WWU emergency scholarship exists, this service is a quarterly fund that will not be enough to support Western’s vulnerable student body during the time of C19. There is an obvious need for an emergency fund for the Western community. A significant portion of Western's student population is employed in the service industry, lives off-campus, and face food insecurity. This pandemic has caused an exponential growth in unemployment. An overwhelming majority of Western's student population does not qualify for unemployment benefits nor for benefits from the CARES Act. Therefore, as students find themselves without work, at risk of eviction, and without funding for basic needs, it is imperative that WWU implement an emergency fund to financially assist. This emergency fund should stand to serve marginalized students with low-income and undocumented students in mind. Both of these communities are disproportionately affected by this crisis as the systematic abuse experienced by these communities has escalated.


9. ENSURE THAT STUDENTS ARE ABLE TO SEEK HELP AT ALL HEALTH AND WELLNESS SERVICES
Now more than ever, the university needs to support its health & wellness services. This means making these resources accessible to staff and students and supporting a sufficiently staffed and well-equipped medical crew who are all receiving hazard pay for their work. For an online quarter, equitable care for the student body means prioritizing these health & wellness services (like ADCAS, CASAS, etc) and their transitions to remote and online alternatives.
This pandemic will damage our well-being in a multitude of ways, and, it is important to understand the physical and mental (isolation, overwhelming feelings of depression and anxiety) effects a full online quarter will have on students, and adequately prepare for this.


10. PAY FOR REMOTE LEARNING RESOURCES FOR STUDENTS DUE TO ONLINE COURSES
Problems of digital inequality are only going to strengthen during this crisis. Many students have difficulty completing routine assignments--because they lack the at-home internet access and technology equipment necessary to succeed. It is the responsibility of the university to make sure students who are broadband-deprived are met with the resources necessary for them to continue their education. This includes providing students in need with internet-connected devices and internet hotspots. Economic insecurity cannot be the reason students are not able to work in their classrooms, as the university, with its more than ample funds, can and should provide for them. Western has a duty to address the exigencies we are now faced with and help narrow the digital divide.


11. ENSURE TRANSPARENCY & CONCISE BREAKDOWN WITH HANDLING OF UNIVERSITY FUNDS
The transparency of a university’s funds ensures trust between a university and its community and will bridge a disconnect between a student and their school. This is why it is necessary that WWU provides a clear and concise breakdown of funds, as we are contributing massive amounts of money to attend the university. Moving forward, we hope that these statements are made more accessible to the student body, as this document is extremely long and inaccessible. Students deserve to be made aware of this process, as we are the ones putting money into the University. We demand transparency.
    Issues of injustice are facing our everyday lves in extremely clear ways. To ensure that WWU meets Goal #4, to “pursue justice and equity in its policies, practices, and impacts [...] by transforming policies, structures, and practices to ensure meaningful inclusion," the needs of “people of many races, ethnicities, creeds, socioeconomic classes, gender identities, sexual orientations, and disability statuses” need to be met. Western needs to be more generous than they have ever been during a time like this because many are in economically precarious situations and there is not a halt to the expenses we have to pay. Tuition--especially during an economic downturn--is often a deterrent of enrollment. This is why we urge WWU to support these demands, and in turn, help push for this to legislators at the state and national levels. As a multi-million dollar university, WWU is in a much better position to push for legislation to support educational institutions. We urge WWU administration to make strong pushes for this, as there is a pressing need for student reimbursements.

    We believe that encouraging conversations of tuition costs amongst students is absolutely necessary. Many of us are struggling, and it is not unfair for us to demand support from the institutions that we pool so much money into. This support can be done without hurting the amazing WWU staff that have put so much work into bettering our community. Over 5,000 students agree. Here is our petition: www.tinyurl.com/wwucoviddemands 


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