Amidst the shift to in-person learning on campus, some students, as well as campus unions, have begun to express their concern — as a result, unions such as the YFS and CUPE 3903 have sent out polls to get students’ response.
“Polling students is essential since York has ignored the very real concerns and wishes of students and instructors to force in-person classes at all costs,” states Vanessa Lehan, chairperson of CUPE 3903.
“In the responses to our members’ polls so far, 79 per cent of students have indicated that they would prefer to remain remote (compared to 12 per cent who wished to move to in-person and 8 per cent who had no preference),” Lehan says about their polling results thus far, noting that one of the most common fears among those polled was contracting COVID-19 or getting a family member sick.
Lehan goes on to name the six demands held by CUPE 3903, that are: “that community members be supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE), that York be transparent about contact tracing, that the policy for accommodations be adjusted so that it is sensitive to differing needs of those in our community (e.g. account for the added risk for people who are immunocompromised), that the information on York’s ventilation audit be made public, that classes be scheduled in rooms where social distancing is possible, and that the entire community be given more time to adjust to reopening.”
“If York won’t listen to students and faculty, the least we can do is talk to each other and express those shared concerns. York should pay attention to the result of polling efforts, instead of trying to suppress them. Campus must be safer for everyone,” Lehan concludes.
As students are the primary target for these various polling initiatives, Excalibur asked students their feelings on polling and heading back to campus.
Second-year criminology student Sabrina Lombardo expresses that the shift to in-person learning is a “rushed decision” and that it could be unsafe for students to be heading back in these conditions.
“The student polling will clearly show that many students feel unsafe coming back to campus or may not be able to come to campus due to other circumstances. The push for remote options needs to stay in order to be more accommodating to the student body. More measures also need to be put in place and the proper administering of PPE and rapid tests need to be refined and organized.”
Fellow second-year criminology student Annie Bedrosian shares similar feelings. Bedrosian expresses that, “the adjustment hasn’t been great,” saying that they wish online materials, such as posting live lectures, were “accessible to all students. I am worried because if students are unable to access the material if they’re sick from COVID-19, they’ll just decide to come because they have no other choice,” Bedrosian continues.
Bedrosian further hopes that “we can all stay safe and that we can make this transition as smooth as possible.”