Last Updated on June 7, 2020
Students at the University of Washington have signed a petition requesting for black students to be given more time on exams and receive accommodations too “busy fighting for [their] rights to sit down and study.”
The petition, which has amassed over 53,000 signatures, is calling for professors to pass students on the account of their being black as their activist obligations preclude them from focusing their time on studying for exams.
According to the petition:
Well, we have one for you: give Black students a break! We are already DISPROPORTIONATELY impacted by this pandemic in terms of health care access and financial hardship. Now add state-sanctioned violence, how do you expect us to enter finals in this headspace?!
We are tired of empty words and promises. We are tired of sentimental emails that do not materialize. Give us equitable responses that meet our needs now! You need to encourage and demand professors to accommodate their black students during this time. If UW truly understands our pain, UW will be a part of alleviating it.
Speaking with Campus Reform, University of Washington Psychology Professor Nicole McNichols said, “Obviously, I support the petition and absolutely believe the accommodations it requests should be honored by all faculty. Students need all of the support and compassion we can afford to give them right now.”
In an email sent to her students, McNichols wrote:
“I wanted to reach out and acknowledge the incredible grief, fear, and loneliness that I know many of you are experiencing in light of recent (and not so recent) events. These are frightening times and I know that many of you are struggling emotionally as our country suffers not only from a pandemic but also from abhorrent racism, overwhelming violence, and palpable rage. These events are terrible and it is completely understandable to feel scared and alone right now.”
“Last, I think we all could use a break right now as these times certainly call for compassion. Given this, there will be a following change to the course policies. First, the remaining homework chapters are being put into review mode. Everyone will receive full points. Second, I have decided to drop everyone’s lowest exam score. This means that you may opt-out of taking Exam 3 if you just don’t feel up to it, (or if you [are] happy with your scores from exam 1 and 2),” the email added.
According to University of Washington Senior Director of Media Relations Victor Balta, staff were told “to consider that while we are together as a community, some are being affected more than others.”
The communication continued, “in these final weeks of the quarter, as assignments become due and exams are taken, to be especially responsive to the needs that your students.”
It went on, “Especially those who are members of the Black community, may have for accommodations as we conclude the school year.”
Extra time was another consideration as the school year draws to a close, coinciding with the recent George Floyd protests.