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EDITORIAL: Open letter to Rutgers professors

Here is what we need from you now

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board.

Dear Rutgers Professors,

We appreciate your patience, hard work and persistence throughout this unprecedented disruption to our educational experience. Your commitment to our studies has provided us all with an even higher level of respect for you.

As students, we had no choice but to comply with being forced from our campus, our classrooms, our friends and our peers. This was for good reason — this is a health crisis, and sometimes we all have to make sacrifices for the public good, something that you, as professors having to adapt to this pandemic yourselves, certainly understand.

But we were forced to accommodate, forced to deal with whatever the educational experience, post-campus exile, would entail. While many professors have graciously been equally as accommodating to students, you were certainly not forced to do so. 

If you so wished, as some of you do, your course loads remained the same. Your lecture times remained stapled onto the clock. Your expectations from your students, at this time of upheaval, remained as high as ever.

Our lives, much like yours, have indisputably not remained the same. And as the semester ends and finals approach, you need to understand this more than ever.

We now deal with balancing family problems with school. Relatives, close relatives who we love and care for, are working from home or, worse, losing their livelihoods. They demand that we be full-time family contributors, students and sometimes workers all at once. We have siblings and parents inconsiderate of our academic needs, inconsiderate of what we need to do to meet our personal academic standards.

We now deal with a nonrigid schedule, at least partially, that makes it easy for work or assignments to slip by unnoticed. We deal with disciplining ourselves — certainly a skill we must learn anyway, but perhaps not one all of us were adequately equipped with when this crisis hit home.

We now deal with a fear of this terrifying, unknown coronavirus. We have family members at risk, and many of us are at high risk as well. We are terrified to go out into a locked-down world and for good reason. These thoughts take a toll on us, distracting us from being as academically focused as we would love to be.

We now have the news on daily in our homes, painting a devastating portrait of the world we endure and a frightening one of an alien world to come. Death tolls, case totals and other terms so typically frightening have now become commonplace, a part of our common lexicon. How are we to divert all of our attention toward papers and finals that seem so insignificant in comparison?

We know you have your jobs to do, and we know that you need to leave this semester feeling as if you at least did your best to educate your students. We get that.

All we ask is that, as we have tolerated a diluted educational experience, you tolerate a rightfully distracted student body.

Be accommodating to your students. Do not make courses laughably easy, obviously, but leniency is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of understanding that in times as chaotic as these, adaptability is an act not of gratitude, but of fairness. 

If possible, make your exams open-note. Retain an expectation of academic integrity, but allow students to access their very own course materials for their assessments. It is their own work, after all.

Be flexible with due dates. With the impositions of family and crisis suddenly upon us, we may not be available at your every beck and call. We may not be able to submit that paper or assignment right on time, and an inability to understand that fact is a sign of close-mindedness. It shows an inability to interact with people with any semblance of empathy.

Most importantly, keep a dialogue open with all of your students. If they email you, asking vital questions about their work, respond quickly and thoughtfully. Without the benefit of in-person instruction, we are prone to feel aimless. It is up to you to make sure that is not the case.

We have been happy to accommodate our professors, so it is our hope — no, our bare expectation — that they do the same to us.


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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