U of C students protest last-minute shift to online study

CALGARY-

Students at the University of Calgary protested the school’s decision to allow online classes that student body members said came with little consultation or consideration for their needs.

The students gathered at MacEwan Hall at 11 a.m. Tuesday in a bid, they said, to hold the university accountable for transitioning classes online two weeks before classes start.

Organizer John Rawlek wants the university to “fulfill its commitment to provide courses it gave to students four months ago, or take responsibility for the thousands of dollars in fees their last-minute decision cost students.” students”.

Rawlek said virtual learning cannot replace the classroom learning experience.

“A web camera can’t capture the beauty of this human experience where you’re sitting next to people you don’t even know, physically interacting with them,” he said.

The decision to opt for online instruction was left to the individual instructors. U of C political scientist Melanee Thomas believes the province is to blame for the last-minute nature of the shift to online classes.

“He landed on us like a hammer,” Thomas said. “

It’s not the fault of the university, and it’s not the fault of the instructors. People are scrambling to figure out the best way to keep people safe… But the responsibility lies with the provincial government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health. »

Students CTV News spoke to were more excited about being able to return to campus than concerned about COVID-19.

U of C student Juan Cruz didn’t have classes moved online and was thrilled about it.

“I’m very happy that all of my classes are in person,” Cruz said. “Last year when I had lessons they were all online and after a while it got quite depressing just being in my room so I can definitely understand their frustration.”

These sentiments were echoed by student Takumi Rodgers. “I’m excited, I missed my freshman year more or less because of that,” Rodgers said.

Meanwhile, student Callen Armstrong discovered a combination of online and in-person classes and felt good about it.

“I have three in-person classes and two online, which I think is my perfect combination,” Armstrong said.

U OF C RESPONDS

The University of Calgary said the vast majority of its course offerings will involve in-person learning, despite some instructors’ decision to move classes online.

School officials released the following statement to CTV News Tuesday morning in response to the rally.


The University of Calgary’s top priority is the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.


The environment continues to change rapidly. The pandemic has forced many post-secondary institutions, including the University of Calgary, to make difficult decisions on short notice to keep our campus safe for students, faculty and staff. These are not decisions we take lightly.


The university is actively working with and supporting students who have been impacted by modality changes. This includes:


  • Help finding courses with their preferred course delivery modality through their educational advisers;

  • Facilitating in-person study groups through the Student Success Center for select online courses;

  • Spaces dedicated to students to participate in online courses with their peers;

  • Scholarships to compensate for financial difficulties;

  • Elimination of on-campus recreation and transit fees for those with fully online schedules (with the ability to register for those wishing to use campus facilities);

  • Continue to provide students with opportunities for experiential research and in-person learning, including internships and student practicums; and

  • In-person student services and extracurricular activities.


In making our decisions, we were guided by provincial recommendations, scientific evidence (supported by the University of Calgary Health Informatics Tracking Center) and feedback from students, faculty, and staff.


Our commitment to all parties has been to carefully monitor the situation and make the necessary changes to keep our community safe, feeling safe and open for the fall.

School officials said in August that about 80% of fall classes would be taught in the traditional mode of instruction.

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