Professors have always been a hit or miss. As students, we’ve grown accustomed to sifting through RateMyProfessor reviews, hoping to avoid especially harsh ones or those who drown us in busy work, but this semester has come with an added challenge.
These days, we’re not asking for professors to hold off on assigning tedious vocab quizzes; we’re asking for them to be consistently supportive, flexible and understanding, regardless of the rigor of their classes. We’re still living through a pandemic, but not every faculty member is treating it as such.
For starters, there was considerable inconsistency in the enforcement of last week’s two-day pause, which was unfair to many students. From our perspective, some members of the Editorial Board were given extensions on previously assigned work, while others were still expected to submit work on its initial due date, and some students even had class.
As of now, there are 895 positive COVID-19 cases among UNC students since Aug. 10. This isn’t just a number. Some professors seem to understand the severity of this issue — others, not so much. In an already whirlwind semester, consistent adherence to University rules is the bare minimum.
Given the overhanging stress and unfamiliarity, staying motivated for school and prioritizing class is difficult. This pandemic doesn’t just affect our school work, but manifests itself in other aspects of our lives. Between juggling new classes, moving and dealing with illness, enforcing policies consistently across departments and schools is crucial in providing stability and easing students’ anxieties.
The University's Roadmap for Fall 2020 lists some general policies for professors when it comes to absences and communication to students, but instructors are given a lot of discretion. This opens up the opportunity for inconsistent and sometimes unpredictable approaches to remote instruction. Professors must acknowledge that this pandemic is affecting certain student populations more than others. Students with learning disabilities, unique home situations and different levels of access to the internet are all facing challenges.
Black and Brown students in particular are being disproportionately affected by this pandemic. Beyond the higher rates of infection for BIPOC, these students are fighting the racism that permeates in the world, which has been especially heightened over the past few months. Professors have to consider the experiences of individual students and should adjust workload and deadlines accordingly.
We understand that professors are experiencing this dramatic change at the same time as students, and that the University is requiring certain hours and benchmarks from instructors. Still, students should not be penalized for dealing with the effects of a pandemic.
Professors were able to better prepare for the move to remote instruction, while students were brought to campus with the idea that on-campus instruction would be feasible. Students took remote classes with the knowledge that they would have access to UNC internet and resources. Now that students have been removed from campus, many of the foundations of a successful virtual learning environment are gone.