Image: The Boar / Abbey Parker

Warwick students launch campaign opposing the SU’s proposal to move all teaching online

Two Warwick students have launched a campaign in opposition to Warwick Students’ Union’s (SU) demand that no in-person teaching should take place in Term 1. 

The ‘Put Warwick Students First’ campaign was launched on the 17 September by two Politics and International Relations students, Cameron Hall and Sebastian Maxted.

The campaign was issued in response to the SU’s demand that all teaching should be held online due to safety concerns posed by the coronavirus pandemic to staff and students.

The campaign maintains that the SU has failed to consult students and consider their welfare when making this decision, thus failing its responsibility to act on behalf of Warwick students. 

The students have stated that recent advice from the government and medical professionals supports that face-to-face teaching can now be carried out safely. 

Moreover, they maintain that the implications of an online Term 1 may adversely affect many groups of students, such as international students, disabled students and those with mental health issues. 

There is no scientific basis that face-to-face teaching is unsafe as long as COVID-secure plans are in place

– Department for Education 

The students have called for an All Student Vote on the matter to properly gauge student opinion. 

Before the ‘Put Warwick Students First’ campaign was launched, SU Education Officer Megan Clarke confirmed that students could not be consulted on the decision as “SU bylaws mean we cannot run All Student Votes (ASV) outside term time”.

The students have also released an open letter, which within 24 hours had gained over 350 signatures from fellow students. 

The letter cites the Department for Education’s statement that “there is no scientific basis that face-to-face teaching is unsafe as long as COVID-secure plans are in place”.

It also references the implications that a fully digital Term 1 may pose to students’ mental health. 

It argues that “moving teaching fully online risks significantly worsening students’ mental health by increasing anxiety about their academic progression and student experience, especially amongst incoming Freshers whose anxiety about moving away from home and making friendships will be worsened by greatly reduced face-to-face contact with their peers”. 

Fully online learning will compromise disabled student’s abilities to learn best according to their needs, impeding academic progression

– Warwick Enable 

The letter also references the difficulties that the SU’s decision may pose to international and disabled students. 

It mentions the “pronounced consequences” international students may face as a result of the decision, as many have made “significant personal and financial sacrifices, including leaving their families, moving to a country with a different first language and paying for accommodation contracts” to study in the UK.

The students argue that studying online would likely invalidate much of this effort.

The campaign also references a statement from Warwick Enable, who represent disabled students.

The statement highlights several potential impacts of an online Term 1 to disabled students, such as “difficulty processing information, increased concentration fatigue and increased risks to mental health”

The statement said: “Fully online learning will compromise disabled student’s abilities to learn best according to their needs, impeding academic progression.”

The open letter ends with a list of questions for the SU, enquiring why students were not consulted on the matter, whether they have fully assessed the implications of the decision and what additional support will be offered to international, disabled students with mental health issues.

The SU has yet to comment on the campaign. 

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