After a year of remote learning, professors must commit to academic accommodations

Three clocks in different time zones
Universities can’t keep letting professors set impossibly rigid standards when it comes to coursework, especially in the middle of a pandemic. The need for extensions is inevitable, and professors must accept that.
A York University professor recently came under fire after screenshots of his interactions with a student were publicized online. The student—who is currently completing online learning from his home country Myanmar—informed his professor he would be unable to complete an assignment given the countrywide communications blackout. The professor not only denied the student the extension but questioned how he “understood reality.”
The professor’s inability to empathize with a student in the midst of political unrest is privileged and out of line. Violence is occurring in this student’s home country; school isn’t their priority right now. A communication blackout isn’t just “the Internet coming down with COVID”—it’s a legitimate excuse beyond the student’s control. A simple Google search would have proven as much.
The professor’s failure to give this student the accommodations he needs goes to show the ego embedded in academia. Missing one test in one class is not the end of the world; professors shouldn’t act like it is.
York University’s statement claims the instructor disregarded school values. But merely removing the professor from his class and providing a blanket EDI statement is merely lip service. It’s problematic the University didn’t act until it received pushback online. York University should be listening to student feedback on a daily basis and be prepared to reprimand teachers as needed. Only acting when issues are made public isn’t doing its students justice.
Students are struggling right now. International students, in particular, are already juggling different time zones, 
COVID-19, and political issues in their respective countries. Working to ensure these students are receiving the same opportunities and education as their peers is vital—even if that means granting them the extensions they need.
This isn’t just a York issue. York should certainly take this situation with the gravity it deserves—but so should other universities. Universities shouldn’t have to teach professors empathy, but given the recent situation, it’s clear standardized restrictions and guidelines are needed to keep instructors in check.
Students shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to receive the accommodations they need or provide justification for why they missed a class or assignment. Empathy is a two-way street; teachers and students alike should be understanding of each others’ circumstances.
In addition, universities should be actively listening to student feedback. QSSETs are a key way to gauge how instructors are teaching their classes. If a professor has a high amount of negative evaluations, that’s a good sign students aren’t being given the support they need.
Students are, after all, paying to receive an education. Professors should be willing to work to make that education accessible, regardless of one’s circumstances. If instructors are failing in this respect, they should be reprimanded as such—tenured or not.
Professors who expect their students to succeed without a little empathy for unforeseen circumstances are doing their classes a disservice. Students shouldn’t have to advocate for themselves; that’s the University’s job.
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