SUSU are continuing to call for a change of action on first semester examinations. Currently, the University’s stance is that the exams should take place in person, however, an All Student vote opposed this view, with 95% of voting students asking for them to be online.
There are a number of problems with in-person examinations. Firstly, students with positive tests will have to wait to retake exams at a later date – this puts them at a disadvantage. Furthermore, students who are positive may pretend not to, or even avoid testing so that they don’t miss their exams.
SUSU President Ben Dolbear has composed another Open Letter to the University Vice Chancellor, Mark E. Smith, since the first Open Letter received no reply after 24 hours of release. With such a time-sensitive matter, this is not the moment for silence from the University. You can read both Open Letters, as well as any SUSU updates, here.
Wessex Scene also got the chance to speak to SUSU President Ben Dolbear today. He said that it would be helpful for the University to ‘make its position clear urgently: are they sticking to their guns, despite everything that has changed in the past few days, or will they respect the student voice? Now is the time for clear communication’. Equally, while SUSU ‘do appreciate this is difficult for the university’ due to being a ‘complex and fast moving situation’, it is also a ‘tight window of opportunity for the university to do the right thing to do for all parties’.
Furthermore, ‘all academic staff have been asked to prepare a Plan B assessment,’ so are prepared for the eventuality that assessments are moved online. ‘Staff want to go online,’ says Mr Dolbear, especially after it was revealed that the University have had to ask PGR students to ‘invigilate [exams]as the casual workforce feel unsafe’ given the increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. SUSU also think that the University is choosing an ‘unjustifiable’ option as the University is failing to prioritise students.
Also, Mr Dolbear noted that ‘several staff unions have live ballots about industrial action’ and that he is ‘conscious that there’s a link between the assessment conversation and the staff filling out these ballots’. This could mean that further strikes could happen if the University fails to listen to its staff and student body. There’s a risk this could ‘damage the university’s reputation further than it has been this past week’ and that there is a ‘tight but live opportunity to work together on a solution and repair the damage’.
SUSU President Ben Dolbear ended by saying one simple message:
Students are waiting.