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Petition This!

by Anton Specht

Over the span of two weeks, the reaction to the spread of the new coronavirus in the usually tranquil state of New Jersey has gone from a plethora of tasteless memes to a sudden manifestation of panic and despair.

It has gotten so serious that our very own Montclair State University has forced most residents to move out for the remainder of the semester and has relocated 100% of its courses to a virtual format.

These choices have angered students to the point where multiple petitions have been circulated among the student body and around social media platforms.

One petition demanded the school produce financial refunds to students for the portion of time they will be required to remain off campus, a demand entirely fair and necessary.

Another petition called for automatic passing grades to be given to all students, due to the shift to online course instruction.

One of these represents an impactful and realistic necessity, while the other demeans the purpose of higher education.

Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania has produced a refund to their students that includes half a semester’s worth of room and board expenses. The largest university in our state, Rutgers University New Brunswick, has refunded their students for housing as well.

Since the petition has gained some traction, Montclair State’s administration has decided to refund its students’ unused room and board and the opportunity to apply for a parking permit reimbursement.

The student-run petition that went toward achieving this goal marked a significant jump in the relevancy of student voices heard by our superiors.

The entreaty to push for an automatic pass for all classes however, feels like a desperate attempt to begin summer recess three months early, only diminishing the legitimacy of the former, far more important cause.

Despite some possible reasons students have that are valid, one cannot help but worry that the creation and signing of a petition calling for automatic passing grades stems from a feeling of laziness, not ambition. Furthermore, petitions such as those are not taken seriously by the administration.

Yes, the university has since given students a pass-fail option for specific courses, but an automatic pass for everything is simply outlandish.

Both petitions did not include a goal amount of signatures. However, many more students are on board for immediate passing grades, nearly 5,000 at that.

The petition for a room and board refund is currently only at 3,435.

The room and board refund is something that will help a majority of students at Montclair State. Although many do not live on campus, many students have expensive meal plans that are now going to waste. Whereas an automatic passing grade given out to every one is simply not necessary.

Courses may have moved to an online format, but that does not mean a passing grade is no longer attainable.

This is a time for perseverance and overcoming hardships. Everyone is working hard to figure out the most efficient way to move forward and students are no exception.

It is immensely important that students voice their opinions during this time and it is evident that, when done correctly and with realistic intentions in mind, change can be affected by doing so.

All parties, including students, must try and realize the difference between what is taking seriously and what is taking advantage of this unprecedented situation.

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