Following U of T announcement Regarding its plans to increase in-person learning beginning Feb. 7, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) and the University of Toronto’s Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) have launched a campaign through e e-mail advocating a safe return to campus.
Emails will be sent to U of T administration and members of provincial parliament to draw attention to concerns raised by students regarding the return to in-person learning. The campaign set a goal of sending out 700 student emails and has reached over 550 emails to date.
The draft email provided by the unions lists various demands aimed at both university administrators and government officials. Demands to government officials include implementing a two-meter distancing ordinance and capacity limits on campuses, providing free N95 masks to community members, and creating a more robustst contact tracing system. Dquests for university administrators include “commitment to stable learning conditions through online learning option and other academic supports like broadening [credit/no credit] policies” and implementing incidental fee reimbursement for students who “continue to be impacted by inconsistent learning arrangements.”
In an email to the university, UTMSU President Mitra Yakubi shared the union’s efforts to “ensure that no student is left behind.” She wrote: “With each semester and each wave of the pandemic, we have highlighted the need for technological support so that professors can record lectures. [and] advocated online classes and in-person classes with social distancing and capacity limits.
Regarding the email campaign launched in collaboration with SCSU, Yakubi explained that the campaign will target university administration and the provincial government, as “they all play different roles in ensuring a safe transition to learning. in person”.
In addition to concerns raised by student unions, there have been a number of petitions created by students echoing similar concerns. These petitions call on the university to either offer students the option of continuing their studies online for the remainder of the semester or to forego switching to in-person classes altogether.
One petition created by a UTSC student, titled “Give UTSC (UofT Scarborough) Students the Opportunity to Continue Online,” has reached over 1,300 signatures. “The number of cases continues to mount and being so active on campus puts us all at risk,” the petition reads.
Another one petition, titled “To Shift UofT Second Semester Online or Hybrid,” has reached over 2,700 signatures. This petition asks UTSG to provide options for students to take courses online.