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Wednesday August 10th

Thousands sign petition with demands regarding UNC System response to COVID-19

The Old Well pictured on Monday, March 23, 2020.
Buy Photos The Old Well pictured on Monday, March 23, 2020.

A petition written by a group of UNC System students with demands relating to the suspension of in-person instruction due to COVID-19 has garnered over 22,000 signatures.

Kylah Guion, a 20-year-old political science student at N.C. A&T State University, drafted the original petition.

“Initially, figuring out what to put in the petition was a direct result of talking to real students, examining my own lived experience right now and just thinking critically about nuanced solutions that could benefit the most people possible in this situation,” Guion said.

UNC-Chapel Hill has addressed some of the stipulations included in the petition, including allowing students to have a say over how they will be graded for the spring semester with an option to pass/fail classes. The UNC System also confirmed that UNC-CH will be able to issue prorated refunds for campus housing and dining services.

Other demands made in the petition, such as prohibiting the factoring of attendance into final grades for the spring 2020 semester, preventing any decisions being made that will stop graduating seniors from graduating and preventing UNC System students from receiving failing grades for the spring 2020 semester, have not been publicly addressed by UNC-CH.

“Students largely fall into a lot of the marginalized groups that are most grossly affected by COVID-19 right now,” Guion said.

Chris Suggs, a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill and president of the UNC Black Student Movement, signed the petition.

“It’s imperative that students come together to organize and call on our University administrators and University leaders to address the situation,” Suggs said. “We need ways for our students to be supported and to make sure that students are not penalized for this crisis that is totally out of our control.”

Suggs shared the petition with his peers because he said it's something that all UNC System students could benefit from.

“We are not commodities of the University system, we are real people,” Guion said. “Real people need real things.”

De’Ivyion Drew, a sophomore Robertson Scholar at UNC-CH, said she signed the petition because she believes the demands need to be met to ensure that students can complete their studies.

As a Robertson Scholar, Drew takes classes at both Duke University and UNC-CH. She said this gives her unique insight into the ways that coronavirus is impacting students at different universities.

“With Chapel Hill, it’s a much more empirically-minded or holistically-minded process that incorporates multiple universities and not just itself,” Drew said. “UNC-Chapel Hill has dealt with it better because of the speed of prorating the housing and dining.”

Guion said regardless of what universities choose to do during the pandemic, she hopes students will engage more with their school systems in the future.

Guion said she and her peers have received both positive and negative feedback from various members of UNC System school communities, but she has not received an official response from the UNC System.

The UNC System also did not respond to multiple requests for comment by The Daily Tar Heel.

“We didn’t get a response, but that’s not important because we’re getting the actual thing,” Guion said. 


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