The University of Alberta Students’ Union strongly objects to the recent announcement that the University will not extend the Fall 2020 withdrawal deadline. 

The UASU made it clear that extending the ‘W’ deadline would be in the best interests of the students most impacted by Alberta’s ongoing health crisis. This student proposal found strong support among the highest levels of University administration. We are disappointed that a small minority of administrators held up the proposal on technicalities. The University is rejecting a concrete opportunity to show compassion for students. 

Refusal to extend the ‘W’ deadline showcases a lack of will to prioritize students’ needs. The UASU calls on the University to show that students are a priority by extending the holiday break. Delaying the start and end dates for Winter 2021 would give students and staff the opportunity to rest, prepare, and ensure their safety from COVID-19 after the holiday season. Other Canadian universities and Alberta’s K-12 system have already decided to extend the holiday break, and 81% of respondents in a recent UASU survey supported this measure. Extending the break would signal that students’ safety and mental health matter to University administration. 

Likewise, we call on the University to standardize course workload as recommended by the Centre for Teaching and Learning. The workload expected of students is higher than ever before, and the University needs to do better in the face of an unprecedented mental health crisis.

Finally, we call on the University to follow the University of Calgary’s example and ban remote proctoring software next semester. This invasive and stress-inducing software routinely disadvantages students of colour, students with accessibility needs, students who parent, and low-income students. In our annual survey, students called remote proctoring one of their greatest challenges. 

President Flanagan must act now to show students their welfare is a priority, and to deliver an acceptable educational experience in Winter 2021.

Next Steps:

  • Extend the holiday break so students and staff can rest, prepare, and be safer

  • Stop course workloads from expanding

  • Ban remote proctoring software beginning with the Winter 2021 semester