Opinion | Semester cancellation is not what we need

By Dennis Austin, Columnist

The University of Illinois’ Academic Senate will decide on a measure that calls for the immediate cancellation of the student semester. Surfaced drafts of the measure cite difficulty for some students who are low-income with little resources to complete coursework, such as lack of internet access.

I myself am from a low-income family, and while I empathize with those students, the decision to cancel the semester would come at great risk. One glaring problem in the resolution calls for grades to be calculated from the first eight weeks of classes, with the option of converting those grades to pass/fail. 

Whoever wrote this portion of the resolution did a poor job. Inconsiderate is a word that comes to mind when reading this. There are many students who may not have done well the first half of this semester but are now beginning to pick up the pace and adjust to the rigor of their coursework.

 If a student is currently sitting at a D and has an opportunity to pass with a C or B in May, why should we take that away from them? We must also consider the number of students who rely on their GPA to remain eligible for scholarships and other academic commitments. 

We must also include students who are on or near academic probation. In this case, a pass/fail course may not be fully beneficial. There is also the students of the class of 2020, who are relying on final semester grades for graduate programs and other academic related ventures. 

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The impact would be felt greatly throughout our student community. While this resolution intends to provide a safety net for University students, it adds an unnecessary level of anxiety and stress to a student body already troubled by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Thankfully, a spokesperson said that the University has no plans to cancel the semester in spite of newly raised objections. I understand that a transition to online coursework will prove difficult for some of my fellow classmates. 

The struggles of being low-income with little resources is evident. However, with just mere weeks left until the semester concludes, it would make no sense to wrap things up in advance. It must also be stated that we are living in trying times, but that does not entail one to advocate for a full cancellation of our semester. 

Not every difficult period in our lives can be cancelled, nor should it be, in some instances. In life, we learn to navigate through periods of hardship. While I believe the University should offer more resources to underprivileged students, canceling the semester would do more harm than good. 

Dennis is a junior in LAS 

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