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UB students call for time off during semester without break

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Posted at 11:15 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 23:50:19-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — This week would have been spring break for University at Buffalo students, if it weren't for the adjusted schedule to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The schedule is like this to stop students from leaving school, traveling out of state, and then returning.

Around the UB South Campus, signs are popping up on building doors. The signs read: “We are burnt out. Do something.”

“We're used to stress at the school it's part of what colleges we understand that,” said Jacob Barkan, a graduate student at UB. Barkan and fellow UB graduate student, Leah Carpenter are calling on the school to make some changes in the second half of the semester.

“Were asking that they alleviate assignments at least so we get a chance to catch up,” said Barkan.

They've set up an online petition, there's over 1,600 signatures.

“We're behind on assignments, so many people signed this petition sharing their stories and it seems so many people are telling the same story right now and they're not being listened to. That we’re all having a hard time staying ahead and maintaining our mental health,” said Barkan.

“Fifteen credit hours means 45 hours outside of class time of work, and all of that work being done online is already stressful enough. And then on top of that some of the other people have full-time jobs,” said Carpenter.

A spokesperson for UB wrote:

“The main factors in considering the current academic calendar were the health and safety of the campus community, a focus on students’ academic success and the need to align with academic guidelines issued by SUNY.

Multiple, complex considerations needed to be taken into account when determining the calendar for this semester. Various options of the calendar were reviewed by university stakeholders, and after significant deliberation the faculty senate approved the currently published spring calendar.

SUNY guidelines state that spring holiday periods are notpermitted given the associated risks pertaining to the spread of COVID-19. While SUNY guidelines state that reading days are permitted, they also state that they must be “single-day midweek reading days” (reading days cannot be held on Fri. or Mon.) “Uneven” days off, mid-week, would impact labs, clinical days, etc. A single Tues. or Wed. off would impact course sections.

Accommodating reading days on Tues, Wed, and Thurs., may have resulted in further modifications to the calendar, for example extending the semester by a week which would interfere with clinical experiences, internships and summer classes, and would also delay degree conferrals.

It is important to know that university officials also needed to ensure that the calendar met all accreditation, federal and state education department, and financial aid requirements for contact hours and allowable number of weeks during a semester.

Changing the schedule once the semester begins would result in once-a-week sections of classes, clinical experiences, lab sections, etc. being cancelled “unevenly.” These changes could potentially impact financial aid and accreditation requirements.

Students were encouraged to plan ahead; to assess their course selections and workloads; to communicate regularly with their advisors and professors; and to seek support whenever needed. A variety of resources are available, from academic support services [buffalo.edu], to virtual wellness workshops [buffalo.edu], to mental health counseling options [buffalo.edu]. Student Life and UB’s counseling center offers online workshops, resources and events, focused on stress management and personal health. Resident Life staff are planning events throughout the semester with a special focus on stress-relief and wellness. Students can visit the calendar of events [calendar.buffalo.edu] for more information.”