Concordia University spokesperson says pass/fail option will not be offered
A Concordia student has started a petition urging the university to enact the pass/fail option for the fall semester, while Concordia University told The Concordian the administration does not plan to do so.
Third-year English Literature student Marcia Lobo said she started the petition because this fall semester has been difficult for her and others around her. She says the stress of balancing the restrictions, online course work, and lack of family, friends, and support has been a lot.
“We weren’t expecting this semester,” said Lobo. “The stress didn’t go away, the pandemic is still here, it’s still very real and we are practically in lockdown … nothing has changed really.”
Lobo is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and due to the pandemic she will move back home. Lobo is currently juggling selling and packing her belongings, a part-time job, and studying full-time, and says she feels isolated, stressed, and unsupported.
“I feel like it’s even worse now, because in the beginning we were getting used to it and we didn’t think it would last that long, and now it just seems endless and we don’t know when things will go back to normal.”
“I don’t learn nearly as much,” said Lobo on the stress of online classes. She says some of her teachers have not been accommodating. She feels exceedingly stressed about getting good enough grades to apply for grad school, due to the pressure of trying to excel in a learning format that she struggles with.
“With the pressure I get even more nervous and I really don’t absorb what the professors are saying,” she said.
Concordia spokesperson Vannina Maestracci released a statement to The Concordian saying the pass/fail option will not be offered this semester.
“The pass/fail option was offered to students in the Winter 2020 semester as an exceptional measure, due to the unforeseen disruption created by the pandemic. The option will not be offered this semester as it was announced last May that Fall 2020 would be delivered remotely for teaching and exams, giving time to all to prepare for this delivery format.”
Third-year finance student Jay Bowers told The Concordian, “This semester, everything changed … they just kind of expected us to keep up rigorously with the curriculum that they were demanding at whatever cost.”
Bowers had an online midterm exam where the program stopped working as he submitted his exam to COLE (Concordia OnLine Exams).
“I have a whole screen recording of this. I sent my professor this lengthy email … and [the professor] said [to] contact Proctorio, [but] it was COLE! Proctorio had nothing to do with this.”
According to Bowers, he spoke to a Proctorio representative, who told him this was a COLE issue. After emailing the professor, she told him to direct any more questions about the exams to COLE. Bowers said he feels bounced around between services and has been offered limited solutions.
Bowers said he has tried to reach out to his advisor this semester, but has been offered no concrete help and was not recommended anymore services he could seek.
“I feel that the support that they offered was minimal at best,” said Bowers. “Who’s listening?”
Venn Mauge, a second-year Management student, said this semester has been difficult because of the isolation and lack of support. Mauge is an international student, and cannot return home because her country’s borders are closed.
“I haven’t seen my family for an entire year, so that’s just a mental strain on its own. For me to have to just mask it with school, it’s just super overwhelming. I’m getting emotional talking about it,” said Mauge.
In one of her classes she had a quiz with 40 theory-based questions, each with five multiple choice answers to choose from, and the quiz length was 30 minutes. This leaves less than one minute per question.
“They ask you questions and you have to think of a theory and then apply it … I was on question eight and I looked at my timer and I had 17 minutes left. I’m not even halfway through … this is super unreasonable.”
Third-year Aerospace Engineering student Nico Brouillet said he was also facing issues with professors and online schooling.
He describes how in one of his classes, if a student asks a question during the lecture that is not immediately relevant to the topic the teacher is discussing at that exact moment, the professor has responded with anger and has kicked students out of the Zoom lecture.
“I’ve looked into emailing the program advisor, but it’s just— there’s no one place, there’s no certain spot to … report a teacher.”
All three students describe feeling like, on top of experiencing problems related to online learning and with no clear avenues for help, these issues are exacerbated by the pandemic. They described the burden of isolation from family and friends, and feeling like their home environment has been eclipsed by online school.
“We’ve never done this before, where everything is done online. The mental strain [on] students, they just don’t understand it. We’re stuck inside, we can’t even go see friends, we can’t go out,” said Brouillet. “Combining the two environments has been a catastrophe and much more than the average college student is ready to cope with.”
“It’s just school, school, school. I don’t have enough time for myself to focus on my mental health … I don’t have a life outside of school right now,” said Mauge.
General Coordinator of the CSU Isaiah Joyner said the CSU is working towards resolving issues around Proctario, COLE, and looking into pushing for pass/fail options.
“With more and more problems arising, it’s showing [that] although we are [almost] completely remote … this is still not the remote learning that is conducive to the student community.”
“We need some reassurance that this won’t have a lasting effect on our Masters, our internships, our GPAs,” said Joyner. “For those people that have been drastically affected given all those varying circumstances and needs, we need some type of support.”
Graphic by Taylor Reddam