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Friday, April 19, 2024

Instructors: Coronavirus pandemic requires your patience and empathy

Monday’s internet outage highlights need for flexibility in instruction

This Monday, Davis experienced an Xfinity internet outage for the majority of our waking hours — the second in a week’s time. Events like this only complicate the remote learning experience that is new to all of us: students, professors, lecturers and TAs alike. We all must prepare ourselves for the unique challenges we will face during these completely unique times, and that means that maximum flexibility from all parties in the educational system is paramount.

The nine members of the Editorial Board are, first and foremost, UC Davis students. As students, we understand firsthand the challenges of this transition to remote learning.

Our own experiences and anecdotal stories from our peers have shown us that many of our instructors do not hold our health in the same high regard we do. This came to a head on Monday, as we ourselves and our friends faced inflexible educational demands during the internet outage — demands to still attend class, to still turn in midterms and to still access online readings and other materials.

The internet was out. There was no option for many students to access or submit these required materials for our academic success. Some of us were fortunate to have data tethering on our cell phones to submit absolutely necessary assignments. Others weren’t so lucky and had to go to campus, which still had internet, all the while violating social distancing protocols.

Requiring students to go to any extraneous length to succeed educationally, including traveling to campus to access the internet during a global pandemic, is unconscionable. Our instructors need to have the health of the UC Davis community as their first priority, as the health and wellbeing of our community should be our highest concern during this crisis.

Apart from unique circumstances like Monday’s internet outage, instructors generally need to be aware of the effects of their educational expectations. Our capacity to be successful students is greatly diminished. We are stuck at home almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no library to go to for silence. There are no third-spaces for us to go to and try and get some work done. We sleep, and eat, and bathe and work all from the same space.

We want to be good students, and we are trying our best. But we can’t be expected to perform to the same academic standards as we would during any other quarter.

So, instructors, please be aware of what you are asking us to do. We are spending countless hours staring at screens to do our online readings and watch our video lectures. Our eyes are strained and our backs are hurting. Many of us don’t have the proper equipment to protect our bodies from the increased strain of sitting at a desk for hours on end.

Instructors: You must monitor the amount of work you assign. If you give a midterm during a given week, please don’t also upload a video lecture for the day of the exam. Remember, you wouldn’t be able to have a lecture the same day as an in-class exam, so don’t do the same during remote instruction. Don’t upload hours of readings and assignments to “make up for what we are missing.” We are doing our best to keep up, and many of us are falling behind.

We are at UC Davis because we value our education. Instructors, please don’t tarnish our time here with unreasonable expectations. We want to learn as much as we can, but we can only do so much. Be kind, listen to our needs and don’t endanger our health.

Written by: The Editorial Board


  1. Dear Editorial Board,
    I have no doubt that you have legitimate reasons for writing such an editorial to your instructors. However, your editorial would have been much more successful in reaching its audience had you offered patience and empathy in kind to your instructors. The majority of your instructors have never taught online before and many of them are using technology they have never used before. You know the backache you are feeling? The strained eyes from too many hours in front of a computer? They are feeling that, too! Your instructors are also stuck indoors 24/7 in their homes, many of them have small children to care for at the same time as doing their best to give you the education you want. Many of your instructors have school-age children who they must now also help teach – and they do not have a third space to disappear in, either. Many of your instructors are working extremely long hours each week to get your assignments uploaded and then graded. Instructors also have the added stress of finding the balance between giving you a strong education that merits the money you and your parents pay dearly for while also trying to keep in mind the challenges that students have in getting their work done.

    Yes, I agree that there may be some professors who may not be as sensitive to your extra challenges as they should be, but they are not the majority. An editorial written in this fashion demeans the hard work the majority of your instructors are doing and they could use a little compassion from their students.

    What we all need is better communication between students and instructors. Because I have AT&T, I had no idea there was a huge outage with Xfinity until one of my students emailed me to let me know. Once I knew, I was able to adjust my expectations and give extensions. If your instructor put an exam and a lecture to be done on the same day, email that professor and ask if the lecture could be due another day. Explain your circumstance so that your instructor has all the information needed to make the best decisions. The better we communicate with one another, the better we can help each other through this trying time.

    I hope you will see toward having a bit more patience and empathy for your instructors and that your instructors will see past the tone of this editorial and ask you how you are doing so they can make changes to help you.

  2. We know. Now get off your high horse and try to provide criticism that is actually constructive for once, The Editorial Board.


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