University Asks Professors to Accommodate Black Students in Finals, Citing George Floyd Protests

June 3, 2020 Updated: June 3, 2020

The University of Washington (UW) is encouraging professors to give special treatment for black students in grading their finals because they are “too busy fighting for their rights to sit down and study.”

Unimpressed by the university’s initial response towards the nationwide upheaval sparked by George Floyd’s death, the UW community started an online petition calling for changes to black students’ final grading policies. By the time of this publication, the petition titled “Give Black Students Accommodation For Finals!” has generated over 27,000 supporting signatures towards its new goal of 35,000.

“Give Black students a break!” reads the petition. “We are already DISPROPORTIONATELY impacted by this pandemic in terms of health care access and financial hardship. Now add state-sanctioned violence, how do you expect us to enter finals in this headspace?!”

“We are busy fighting for our rights and for the rights of future black children and students to sit down and study,” it continued. “The least UW could do is demand professors to accommodate us during this time.”

Answering the students’ demand, four of UW’s top officials, led by President Ana Mari Cauce, asked instructors to be “especially responsive” to the needs of students, particularly those from the black community, and provide them with accommodations such as extra time to finish assignments or a “final examination optional” approach.

“We are asking you to consider that while we are together as a community, some are being affected more than others,” the UW officials wrote in the June 1 message, adding that black faculty who are “disproportionately affected” by current events should also reach out to administrators if they need of any accommodations, deadline extensions, or other support.

Similarly, students at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) are calling for new grading policies for their final exams, claiming that recent unrest has made them unable to focus on their schoolwork.

“Please do not force students that are paralyzed by the current events to disengage in their political environment. Please do not prioritize students’ exams over their mental and emotional health,” reads a sample letter that’s been circulating among UCSD students who wrote to university administrators for a “modification in the grading and the final exams,” preferably a universal pass.

A student who emailed the letter to school officials told student newspaper The Guardian that she has been too occupied with #BlackLivesMatter activism to prepare for her finals.

“I personally have been exhausting so much energy simply using my platform, researching, donating, having hard conversations, empathizing, and grieving to even focus on my classes and have to catch up as we speak because the past week has been excruciating,” she said.