University fails to ease withdrawal deadline; UASU calls for extended holiday break and online proctoring ban

News Staff - Thu Nov 26, 2020

The University of Alberta Students’ Union strongly objects to the recent announcement that the University will not extend the Fall 2020 withdrawal deadline.

The UASU made it clear that extending the ‘W’ deadline would be in the best interests of the students most impacted by Alberta’s ongoing health crisis. This student proposal found strong support among the highest levels of University administration. We are disappointed that a small minority of administrators held up the proposal on technicalities. The University is rejecting a concrete opportunity to show compassion for students.

Refusal to extend the ‘W’ deadline showcases a lack of will to prioritize students’ needs. The UASU calls on the University to show that students are a priority by extending the holiday break. Delaying the start and end dates for Winter 2021 would give students and staff the opportunity to rest, prepare, and ensure their safety from COVID-19 after the holiday season. Other Canadian universities and Alberta’s K-12 system have already decided to extend the holiday break, and 81% of respondents in a recent UASU survey supported this measure. Extending the break would signal that students’ safety and mental health matter to University administration.

Likewise, we call on the University to standardize course workload as recommended by the Centre for Teaching and Learning. The workload expected of students is higher than ever before, and the University needs to do better in the face of an unprecedented mental health crisis.

Finally, we call on the University to follow the University of Calgary’s example and ban remote proctoring software next semester. This invasive and stress-inducing software routinely disadvantages students of colour, students with accessibility needs, students who parent, and low-income students. In our annual survey, students called remote proctoring one of their greatest challenges.

President Flanagan must act now to show students their welfare is a priority, and to deliver an acceptable educational experience in Winter 2021.

Next Steps:

  • Extend the holiday break so students and staff can rest, prepare, and be safer
  • Stop course workloads from expanding
  • Ban remote proctoring software beginning with the Winter 2021 semester

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The Students’ Union is the official representative of more than 32,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It acts as a strong advocate for students both on campus and at all levels of government.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact your UASU Executive:

David Draper
UASU Vice-President Academic
780 492-4241

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