Petition to UNC System, UNC Board of Governors
A Request By UNC System Students for Administrative Response to COVID-19 Conditions
In response to COVID-19, the UNC system has decided to suspend in-person instruction and move to online course delivery wherever applicable. While this measure has been productive in minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19, the static decision to transition students to internet-based education delivery lacks the nuance necessary for students to achieve maximum academic success in the last months of the 2020 Spring Semester. The latest developments from the UNC system have ordered that students vacate all campuses. Many students have come to North Carolina from other time zones. To demand that students be present through Zoom or other video-calling mediums for online instruction, on a schedule specifically dedicated to Eastern Standard Time, is vastly inconsiderate and virtually impossible for some students. Georgetown University students made this analysis: International students and even students living in different parts of the country...would have to stay up or wake up at strange times to "attend" virtual classes. For instance, lectures starting at 8 am in Washington, DC would require that students on the West Coast be up by 5 am to participate in the class. Many UNC system students come from rural areas. The quality of internet connection made available to many of us in these places does not always render the technological ability that an online education system demands. There are also students, in rural areas or otherwise, who simply do not have access to the internet. To overlook this fact is extremely classist, and it harmfully minimizes the immoveable reality of many UNC System students. Additionally, there has been little to no talk from the UNC system about how this move will affect students who deal with mental health issues and diagnoses, nor about the general mental well-being of students during this health crisis. Social distancing indeed helps to decrease the risk of spreading infection, but it increases the risk of depression, suicidal thoughts, and other symptoms that accompany mental health issues and diagnoses. Coupling these implications with the stresses of navigating this virus, public panic, loss of income, worry about loved ones, concern for one's own safety, and the responsibilities (and difficulties) of being an online student may have adverse effects on the health and well-being of UNC students, and thus hamper their ability to perform at their best academically. In addition to the humane challenges that accompany online learning and social distancing, students also raise concerns around the viability of the grading process—especially in classes where attendance is factored into the final grade. This late in the semester, it would be unwieldy for faculty to have to produce alternative grading methods that are equitable for every student. It is also unfair for students to be graded under the same metrics that existed for in-person courses, when these were not the initial conditions that we consented to when signing up for these courses. Because of these truths, a coalition of students from different campuses in the UNC system have formulated a list of demands: 1. We demand a clear option for students to choose individually, on a course-by-course basis, how they would like to be graded for the Spring 2020 Semester.Students can continue on the track to receive a letter grade, but with an automatic curve by one letter grade OR Students can opt for a Pass/Fail grading option instead of a letter grade. 2. We demand that the UNC system prohibits the factoring of attendance into final grades for all course meetings being held online for the remainder of the Spring 2020 online course delivery plan. 3. We demand that the UNC system require professors to post recordings of all online course-meetings in consideration of students living in other time zones. 4. We demand that no decision moving forward from the UNC system or our respective universities will prevent graduating seniors from graduating. 5. We demand that students be able to withdraw from courses until March 30th regardless of course withdrawal deadlines on each campus. 6. We demand that the UNC system and our respective universities waive the course withdrawal limit for Spring 2020, so that all students have the autonomy to choose how to move forward, being that these new conditions are completely out of our control. 7. We demand that no student in the UNC system receive a failing grade for the Spring Semester of 2020. 8. We demand that all coursework submissions be suspended until the UNC system decides how to move forward in reimbursing students for housing and meal plans. 9. We demand that the UNC system mandates all respective university accessibility resource offices build comprehensive plans for students without access to reliable internet or other necessary technology to complete online course delivery. 10. We demand a thorough response and decision from the UNC system by March 23, 2020 at 5:00pm. We insist that the UNC system prioritize the best interests and well-being of students during this difficult time.
Petition to University Systems of Georgia, Wallace Keace, Fort Valley State University
Pass Students For The Spring Semester
Due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), University Systems of Georgia, required that students are not allowed to return to campus until further notice for safety reasons. As a result, students are taking classes online. Every student is not fortunate enough to have a laptop or internet in the comfort of their home. Students such as myself have chores that will hinder us from learning at our greatest potential. Also, some students have to deal with the stress of personal issues which can be very distracting and discouraging, causing the student to fall behind or possibly fail. Living on campus is very beneficial to students because it is an “escape from home” in other words. It helps students focus better and avoid drama going on at home, therefore being able to perform better academically. It is very sad, but true that some college students are abused by their parents and/or relatives which is also very destructive to their mental health, causing them to want to discontinue doing work. Additionally, some students perform better in class rather than online and lack the discipline to check D2L every single day or every other day. By being at home students are forced to teach themselves the material. Actually having to physically get up and go to class makes a huge difference and forces a student to have no choice but to comprehend the curriculum in their respective class because we are in the classroom and not in front of a computer screen. This is why Fort Valley State University should pass all students for the Spring 2020 Semester.
Petition to President Kim Schatzel
Make Towson Grades Pass/Fail Due to Forced Online Learning
Due to the novel coronavirus, all students have been forced into an online learning environment. Many students are not well suited for online classes, and the majority learn better in a physical classroom with their professors. Other students do not have all the resources needed which are typically provided on campus by Towson University. To make grading on a more even playing field and give no advantage to students who prefer online learning, or have better resources to succeed, all classes should be graded on a pass/fail basis. There are already a number of universities who have embraced this idea, and I believe it is most fair for all students in this time of uncertainty.
Petition to Skidmore College
Spring Semester Grading Policy 2020
Due to the spread of COVID-19, Skidmore College's campus as well as many other college campuses and educational institutions around the country have decided to discontinue face-to-face instruction and proceed with virtual instruction. While this decision greatly serves the population and protects everyone from potential exposure to illness and contaminants, it puts the students of Skidmore College at an educational disadvantage for a variety of reasons. First, this system of learning through Zoom Conferencing/Google Meet and virtual instruction prevents meeting with professors in person. While we can still interact with our professors through email, phone, and video-calling, there are limitations including one's time zone, WIFI availability, logistical organization, etc. Additionally, an inability to physically be on campus poses challenges to students' educational quality. Skidmore College provides numerous resources for students. Indefinite virtual instruction means an end to that access, putting many students at a disadvantage. These disadvantages would cause a great deal of stress for students, adding on the fact that the course load and material will still be largely the same. The Skidmore College student body is petitioning for a new pass-fail grade type that would be created for the Spring semester of 2020. This would allow students to choose between the standard grade type (A-F) or pass-fail grade type (S/U) for each course completed after final grades are posted. Students will have until May 27, 2020 to decide which grade type they would like to choose. Offering this would help students alleviate some of the various stresses caused by measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We should emphasize, that this should be an option, not a mandate. The need for a choice in this situation is crucial considering that our students come from different logistical situations and academic backgrounds. Skidmore College students are driven and passionate but even under the right circumstances, the amount of work and engagement can be exhausting and detrimental to the general mental health of the student body. The next step for Skidmore College is to open up the option to allow students to choose to take their classes with the standard grading type (A-F) or pass/fail (S/U) once final grades are posted. Other colleges and universities allowing this: Richmond University, Tulane University, Boston University, Colgate University, Lehigh University, Gettysburg College, Denison University, and many more.
Petition to The University of Georgia, Jere Morehead
Offer an OPT-IN Pass/Fail Grading Scale to UGA Community due to COVID-19
(USG wide petition sign here: bit.ly/PassFailUSG) On March 12, 2020, the University of Georgia announced a temporary two week suspension of classes and informed students they must not return to campus within those two weeks if they traveled outside of the country during spring break. On March 16, 2020, it was announced that rather than return to in-person instruction, the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester would transition to an online format. Similarly, other schools within the University System of Georgia made the same announcements. We, as students, are grateful to our schools prioritizing the health and safety of the entirety of our communities when making this difficult decision. However, given the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe UGA should strongly consider the option of transitioning to an opt-in pass/fail grading scale in which all classes would still count for major, minor, prerequisite, or concentration requirements. We believe this decision will be in the best interest of all of the members of the UGA Community. This transition to online curriculum poses many personal issues that we know the University system is working to address, but many students may not have access to the internet when they return home or have their own computer. Some cable companies end their service lines in rural areas, so those students will be at a disadvantage and unable to have access to their course work. Moreover, more and more public libraries are closing everyday, meaning there are even less resources available for many of our peers, especially those who rely on UGA's libraries for computers, printing, internet, and copies of textbooks. Some of our fellow Bulldawgs may go home to financially difficult times, unexpected home responsibilities, and may not be able to find a quiet study space. Additionally, despite an application process to stay on campus, many students will be displaced in regards to their living situation and may not have a safe place to return to or will be required to travel around the world and risk possible exposure to COVID-19 to return home. For the courses that have announced that instruction will be done via Zoom at their scheduled time in Standard Eastern Time, many students will face difficulties with being able to attend virtual lectures from different time zones around the globe. The students who will struggle with time zone changes may also have difficulty contacting professors or visiting their virtual office hours, which could prove detrimental to the students who rely on in-person office hours and review sessions for a better understanding of the course material. The reality is, there are many classes that will not translate to an online environment, including (but not limited to) the following: studio art courses, labs, higher level math courses, philosophy courses, physical education classes, freshman year odyssey classes, foreign language classes, e.t.c.. Many students will not have access to support resources such as academic tutoring that may be too difficult and/or expensive to attain without University resources. Additionally, many of our professors, while incredible resources and teachers, have little to no experience with using online courses. Hence, creating an opt-in pass/fail option will provide the much needed relief to students in this unexpected turn in the semester. The benefits of implementing a pass/fail grading scale are significant. This semester is unconventional and will undoubtedly see our stress levels rise as COVID-19 and the related systemic shifts continues to spread. To continue with a normal grading scale would be unfair to those who will inevitably have loved ones get sick and possibly pass away and to those who have socioeconomic disadvantages that will limit their academic abilities by not attending in-person instruction. It is much more fair to students that graduate schools and employers see "P's" on students' transcripts than potentially risking students getting grades well below their GPA potentially negating all the hard work they have done. Implementing an opt-in pass / fail grading scale will enable students to maintain an impressive academic record without destroying their employment and graduate prospects. The benefits of a pass/fail grading system extend to the professors as well. With a decent population of UGA’s professors being older than the at-risk age (50+), it is highly probable that they could be infected and, if so, their focus should be on their recovery, not grading assignments. During this trying time, we think it is important that there is a degree of leniency with grades, which is why we think the opt-in pass/fail grading scale that is being adopted by more universities is so important. We have all worked hard this semester, but in the midst of a pandemic, it is vital that we remember that now is the time we should do everything we can to help people in any conceivable capacity. Especially for those with high GPA’s this semester, apprehension regarding an opt-in pass/fail grading scale is understandable; however, some students with high GPA’s also have socioeconomic disadvantages, and they will go home and could lose their high GPA because they do not have access to computers or other resources. There are so many people who will go home to abusive and toxic homes. No students or professors should be penalized in the midst of this calamity, and this option will be a great way to alleviate all of our anxieties. Thus, the most significant benefit of the opt-in grading scale other universities have begun implementing: Each individual student has the option to partake in this alternative grading scale based on their circumstances. We acknowledge that some students need letter grades to be eligible for medical school or law school or otherwise and would not like to hinder their ability to seek higher education. We would like to request that all pass/fail grades provide an asterisk denoting at the bottom that the grade change was due to COVID-19 which prevented in-person instruction. There is a concern that these grades will not be accepted by law schools, medical schools, or grad schools, but over the past few days institutions including Harvard Law School, Stanford Law School, the University of Michigan Law School, UC Berkeley School of Law, Cornell Law School (https://www.law.com/2020/03/18/law-schools-adopt-pass-fail-grades-as-they-move-online-amid-covid-19/?slreturn=20200218233331). We, as students, recognize how difficult a decision it was to move to online instruction and thank our Universities for putting our safety above all else, but we hope that the University of Georgia follows the action of other prestigious universities (including M.I.T., Duke, Georgetown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Northwestern University, the City Universities of New York, Smith College, and Middlebury College) and enacts this change for the overall benefit of the student and faculty community (https://www.thedp.com/article/2020/03/pass-fail-penn-mit-georgetown-smith). Duke University Pass/Fail Petition George Washington University Pass/Fail Petition University of Florida Pass/Fail Petition Columbia University and Barnard Pass/Fail Petition Boston University Pass / Fail Petition Georgetown Pass/Fail Petition University of Alabama
Petition to student body, Teachers
Georgia Schools Should Void 4th Quarter Grading and Pass All 2019/20 Classes
The Georgia Public Education system has crumbled in the recent COVID-19 Pandemic. The schools have began a “digital learning” course which is new to both the students and the teachers. The schools are forcing the teachers to put out more work than the normal workload during this online period, not to mention, for no actual cause, due to the EOC’s being put up for termination this Spring 2020. The workload, along with the stress and anxiety being put on students does not provide a healthy working environment for the student body. As a result of this, our future generations are having trouble keeping a high GPA or even focusing academically at all. Without the proper help from teachers or having the ability to actively question teachers and receiving rapid responses, students are not truly learning, but rather grabbing the information temporarily. I have started this petition in hopes of getting our GPA for 4th quarter voided and receiving our credits in full for this 2nd semester. You shouldn’t penalize your students for a global issue that is fully out of our control.
Petition to Association of American Medical Colleges, American Medical College Application Service
No MCAT for 2021 Cycle
ATTN:Association of American Medical CollegesAAMC Board of Directors (Chair: Joseph Kerschner, M.D.) AAMC Member Institutions CC: American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Texas Health Education Service We are a concerned group of premedical students writing today to request that the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) consider the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) canceled for the 2020 testing year, and that no MCAT scores be transmitted for any applicant to the medical school class of 2025 (members of the 2021 application cycle). The COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique set of challenges that has worsened the disparities already present in the medical school admissions process. While we recognize that the AAMC was at no fault for the emergence of a novel coronavirus that spread in an unprecedented manner, they are responsible for the creation of a cohort of physicians, scientists, and physician-scientists who can help lead us through similar public health crises in the future. However, instead of accommodating for the changes and dangers present in applicant’s lives, the AAMC elected to shorten the MCAT exam (which, as a result, allows applicants less time per question), removing the lunch break, and removing the tutorial period (which is used for students to write down formulas they will need on the exam). In addition, they required students to log into their rescheduling student from 6 am-noon EST on May 7, 2020, only to have their system crash. At 2:30 pm, when the system did reopen, a wait of up to 12 hours quickly formed. Students, some of whom had woken up at 3 am local time to register, spent their entire day attempting to register for an exam that could determine their career, only to find that there were no seats left in their immediate area. Therefore, they had to register for exams several hours from their homes, effectively negating social distancing and shelter in place orders. The number of examinees affected by this will continue to grow, as students with approved accommodations were told that they will not get to select a date and time until at least Monday, May 11, 2020, after the non-disabled students. It is inevitable that these students, many of whom are receiving accommodations due to a disability that results in an immunocompromised state to travel. We are additionally concerned about the following factors affecting this year's MCAT exam and admissions cycle: The assertion that the exam was standardized because examinees had “about” the same amount of time per question, despite it not being the same, the exam is offered at non-working hours, and the removal of significant portions of break and seat time The AAMC’s unwillingness to release a free practice test that meets the same time constraints as the new exam The financial difficulties students faced from COVID-19 being exacerbated by a day spent off work to register for the MCAT, purchase new practice materials, and travel to the exam site The close quarters present in testing centers that will make disease transmission highly likely Financial challenges placed on students by universities and jobs closing for the remainder of the school year and into the fall Difficulty obtaining letters of recommendation and transcripts due to the closure of universities Uncertainty regarding when students may take the exam, as opening protocols vary immensely at the state and local levels The inability for students with disabilities to register for their exam online, as non-disabled students could, leaving them with the final choice of available dates and times Students having to travel to take exams, despite even the AAMC saying that it will likely be unsafe for interview travel this fall We recognize that an admissions cycle without an MCAT may feel unfair to those who have already tested. However, the events of the last 5 months have been unprecedented, and requiring students to take an exam that could endanger their health and wellbeing is equally inequitable. This has been a difficult period for us all. We, the members of the class of 2025, respectfully ask the Association of American Medical Colleges to cancel all MCAT exams for the remainder of 2020 and to refrain from the transmission of any MCAT scores in the 2021 admissions cycle. Sincerely, The Students of the 2021 Admissions Cycle Contact information: Twitter: @StudentsPremed email@example.com
Petition to National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, National Board of Medical Examiners
Allow medical schools to proctor board exams to combat scheduling issues due to COVID-19.
The Problem In the midst of a global pandemic we as medical students are being asked to descend upon urban COVID-19 hotbeds such as Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia for the USMLE Step 2 CS or even worse, just Chicago and Philadelphia for the COMLEX Level 2 PE. We'll come from all over the country to be condensed in the same building, risk spreading a virus gripping our entire reality, and then go back to where we came from while it incubates inside of us. We could be the harbingers of a second wave of COVID-19 in a cruel and ironic public health nightmare. All for an exam that 46%/58% of program directors don't even require (Step 2 CS/Level 2 PE) according to the 2018 NRMP program director survey. As if that wasn't enough, we are being forced to reschedule written board exams with no say in the matter after paying exorbitant sums of money to sit for a date that we planned months in advance for with little notice. Students plan their studying to sit for a very particular day, just to have the rug ripped out from beneath them. DO students who are forced to sit for both the COMLEX and the USMLE (due to requirements for their specialty of choice) have it worst, as they pay more than $6000 for these exams, and they still have a 50/50 shot of being moved around without any control of their own calendar. As student consumers we deserve better, but there is only one big player, Prometric, that we all have to work through. And they've stopped fielding our calls. The Proposed Solution Medical schools around the country administer examinations all the time. We take nationally administered COMAT exams as osteopathic students leading up to the Level 2 PE and our MD colleagues take comparable shelf exams to track their progress leading up to the Step 2 CK. These are done in-house at our medical schools without issue monthly. In light of COVID-19 we've even taken some of those exams unproctored at home. Integrity is expected of physicians every day in practice and we've stepped up in these unprecedented times to display it as we continue our education. These shelf exams are proctored written exams just like the Level/Step 1 exams and the Level/Step 2 exams. Medical schools are more than capable of administering those aforementioned board exams in house, as well as OSCE style exams like the Level 2 PE/Step 2 CS. As a student, consumer, and informed aspiring healthcare professional, I implore the NBME and the NBOME to consider and do the following: Written Exams Allow medical schools to proctor the Level/Step 1 exams and the Level 2 CE/Step 2 CK for their students who are displaced from written testing environments at Prometric in house in a controlled, proctored, testing environment. Clinical Exams Allow medical schools to administer a Level 2 PE/Step 2 CS equivalent in the form of an OSCE exam for this application cycle in the interest of public health and logistical requirements for NRMP application, should they have the standardized patient resources to do so and the facilities to record encounters to send to the NBME/NBOME for quality control. Extend deadlines for Level 2 PE/Step 2 CS to ensure that students are able to graduate even if they have been displaced from an exam spot that would have allowed them adequate time to remediate if needed. Permit students to bring their own PPE and use it during the exam without penalty to their patient satisfaction scores. Thank you for your attention to this petition. I hope that we as future healthcare professionals and current healthcare professionals alike can get behind these reasonable requests to #FlattenTheCurve and keep the classes of 2021 and 2022 on track to graduate and continue onward to graduate medical education in spite of all of the challenges that COVID-19 has placed in our path. Please share this with your friends, classmates, and colleagues. We need to gather all the support we can get!