Students call for cancellation of spring semester


Photo Courtesy of Cristal Caballero

Cristal Caballero, the author of the letter sent to University administration, stands with her parents outside of her dorm building on move in day.

By Amrita Bhattacharyya, Staff Writer

Dozens of University students and RSOs endorsed a letter addressed to the University administration. The letter calls for adjustments to the remainder of the semester due to problems that many low-income students face. 

Specifically, the letter calls for canceling the remainder of the spring semester, granting students full credit and giving them A grades for each class, and providing prorated refunds in fees and tuition.

Zitlalli Paez, sophomore in LAS and FAA, is a low-income, first-generation student who endorsed the letter. Paez does not have a reliable internet connection or a good study space in her home. 

“We’re missing a lot of essential resources,” Paez said. “It can become impossible to do the workload of the University.”

Paez is also searching for a job back home to pay off her apartment lease on campus, as her contract can’t be terminated mid-semester.  

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Alondra Colunga, senior in ACES, also endorsed the letter. Since returning home, Colunga has been helping her mom at work in the mornings.

“It’s been a little bit difficult because when I get out of work I have to go straight to doing my homework and then doing online classes,” Colunga said. 

Colunga has taken on additional responsibilities since leaving campus. 

“My mom, she works all day. So, sometimes I’m in charge of taking care of the house and making sure that everything’s in order,” Colunga said.

Out of the goals of the letter, Colunga especially wants prorated refunds in tuition and fees, as this money would go directly toward helping her family.

Cristal Caballero, junior in LAS, authored the letter. While writing the letter, her tactic was to “ask for the extreme.” In asking for the cancellation of classes and that all students receive As, she aimed to make the option of pass/fail for classes seem more moderate.

The letter also asks for refunds of fees for the rest of this semester. 

“There’s no point in me paying library fees if I’m not going to be able to use it,” Caballero said.

Robin Kaler, chief communications officer for the University, said that there will be no tuition refunds for the courses which continue this semester. 

“We have every confidence that the courses we offer can achieve the desired student learning outcomes,” Kaler said in an email.

Commenting on the University’s recent announcement of the credit/no credit policy, Caballero said that students always had that option. According to the Office of the Registrar, students are able to select the credit/no credit option through consultation with their college office.

“The University really knows how to make it seem like they (are) doing something for us,” she said.

Apart from University students and RSOs, the letter has endorsements from students nationally and internationally. Caballero said that this is an international issue, since everyone is being affected by the coronavirus.

Since Caballero has posted her letter on Twitter, it received over 50,000 impressions and 16,000 engagements.

The letter has also changed the mind of at least one University professor, who has decided to give all of his or her students As, according to Caballero.

Colunga does not have any plans to use the credit/no credit policy set by the University. She wishes the University would’ve done more in terms of a GPA boost for no credit classes. 

Caballero, Colunga and Paez agree that they have faced problems after coming home that have inhibited them from successfully focusing on their courses. 

“I endorsed the letter because I do want the conversation to start circulating and teachers taking (our obstacles) into consideration,” Paez said.

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