Humber students stressed by remote learning workload sign online petitions

by | Apr 9, 2020 | Campus News, News

Nathaniel Smith, News Reporter

Hundreds of Humber students are signing online petitions asking for early credit options and course material removal due to the stress of remote learning.

As students adjust to the shift of online learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, online petitions have been an outlet for students to voice their concerns with issues they’re facing.

“I think it’s mainly because they see a problem with how things are running at the moment and they would like to get their voices heard so that way their opinion is also noted, and try to make a change on things that aren’t right,” Taya Caesar, a first-year Spa Management student, said in a telephone interview.

She is among the more than 725 Humber students who signed the Credit/No Credit petition.

Taya Caesar, a first-year Spa Management student at Humber College, maintained a passing grade before the pandemic. She believes a Credit/no Credit option would be the best approach for herself and other Humber students. (Nathaniel Smith)

A Credit/no Credit option would grant students with a 50 per cent grade average or higher a chance to opt out of the remaining course workload early while still obtaining a credit.

The Credit/no Credit petition, outlines the reasoning behind the request, written by anonymous petition creator.

“I think it would be an important option for Humber students because that type of option would alleviate a lot of stress for students,” Caesar said.

“At this point our main priority should be to stay safe and abiding by government orders to not spread COVID-19,” she said.

Stress from balancing online learning and new virus information has become the leading issue for students who signed these petitions.

Another petition is asking Humber College to drop the workload due to student mental health issues. More than 240 students signed this petition as of April 9.

“To expect us to try to do the best we can under these circumstances is asking for a lot, my worry is on other things [virus related], not school right now,” said Olivia Haggitt, a first-year Fashion Arts student.

Schools like McMaster University and Ryerson University have implemented credit or no credit options by a certain deadline,  and University of Guelph-Humber has also issued a new course drop deadline of May 20.

Humber’s PR and Communication Manager Emily Milic said in telephone phone interview that she discussed the approach that Humber College is taking instead of Credit/no Credit.

“Rather than a pass or fail structure, Humber has put in a withdrawal late notation so if students don’t pass a course during the Winter semester, they would receive a transcript with a withdrawal late notation statement, meaning it wouldn’t count against their grade point average,” Milic said.

With the withdrawal late notation being an option for Humber students without harming grade point averages, some of the students still believe that a Credit/no Credit option should be available, although students with a 49 per cent or lower grade average won’t receive a credit.

“At this point in the semester with the course load before the pandemic, those students’ best option would have been to drop the class before it became a part of academic penalty,” Caesar said.

Students feel these petitions are the easiest way for them to get the attention of Humber, but with students turning online instead of reaching out to Humber staff directly, faculty members have become worried.  

“It’s very concerning to me that students are afraid to go to their faculty members and we never want that to be the case,” Milic said.

“I would recommend if they have challenges and concerns that they would be raised with people they feel comfortable with, if that’s faculty or program coordinators. We also have student support system listed on our updates page,” she said.

Humber sent out an email on March 31 asking students to complete a survey that addresses online learning concerns. So far 800 students have participated and others are encouraged to do the same.