Parents Petition to the University of Virginia Administration
Dear UVA Administrators and Board of Visitors
We write to you today as a large, rapidly expanding coalition of UVA stakeholders including parents, students, and alumni who are increasingly concerned about the current living/learning conditions at the University of Virginia.
We fully appreciate the complexities involved in navigating operations during this pandemic and acknowledge the difficulties the Administration has faced keeping students, staff, faculty and the community safe. We placed our trust in your decision making over the past year but have become increasingly alarmed at the negative impacts your decisions are having on the environment that now exists. We can no longer stay silent and expect better efforts be made to improve the conditions under which students attending the university are now living and learning.
Below are a few examples of the issues we would like to highlight:
– Virtual learning at UVA falls well short of the caliber education one would expect at a top ranked public university and not worthy of the tuition demanded. With 75% of course offerings with no in-person component, the quality of student’s education has suffered greatly. Additionally, the number of courses permitted to be pre-recorded asynchronous lectures is unacceptable. Students fear these inferior teaching methods are being viewed as watered down “pandemic degrees” by future employers.
– The culture at UVA has become one of snitching, shaming, targeting and cancellation that needs to be reversed immediately. We need a return to the “spirit of compassion and interconnectedness” that is embodied in UVA’s Honor Code.
– Student morale at UVA is at an all-time low. They are suffering psychologically, socially, and physically, having a profoundly adverse effect on their education. These excessive restrictions have created a dangerous situation for many students.
– There is an obvious disparity between the way the regular students at UVA are treated and restricted vs the student athletes, the citizens of Charlottesville, and the students at other major Virginia universities. The students at UVA are bearing the brunt of the hardships and it has become too great a threat to their emotional and physical well being. UVA students should not be living according to entirely different set of standards.
We are asking for a transparent and detailed plan by the university for how you will restore the key components of the UVA experience that have been taken from our students over this past year. We would like to see clear movement towards this plan now in the form of relaxed measures that model more closely what the Governor of Virginia has mandated for the rest of Virginia. This includes outdoor gatherings, indoor gatherings, distancing requirements and mandates for in person classes at public schools.
To date, 17 out of the top 25 public Universities have announced firm and detailed plans to FULLY REOPEN their campuses to pre-pandemic levels no later than Fall 2021. On this, UVA has remained mostly silent.
In addition to relaxing restrictions in accordance with local guidelines, we are requesting a detailed plan that includes clear criteria and timing for the following:
– Commencement of in-person classes in ALL disciplines and schools
– A reversal of the current policies that foster the current divisive and toxic culture.
– Restoration of in-person access to student resources, facilities, and activities covered under the student activity fee paid each semester including gyms, sporting events, libraries, cafeterias, etc.
– Resumption of all in-person student-led extra-curricular activities (e.g. intramural sports, club meetings, etc) with reasonable COVID precautions.
In conclusion, we fully understand the COVID pandemic was an extreme situation and as such required extreme measures. But even UVA’s Dr. Rosner freely admitted that they “don’t see the in-class environment as something that is a particularly high-risk environment,” yet there are still students today without a single in-person class, living in isolation. And even Virginia’s own Governor has recognized that these restrictions are causing “irreparable learning loss and psychological damage” to these children. It is time to put the students at UVA first and ease restrictions to the maximum extent possible under the law.