On Tuesday night, students distributed an online petition calling for the University to reevaluate this semester’s midterm exams, given that they coincide with drastic and ongoing efforts to mitigate the risks of COVID-19. We support this petition and enjoin the University to act on its demands.
The petition asks that “the University consider … reevaluating the weight of this semester's midterms or postponing them.” This would “grant students the opportunity to prioritize their health and safety, without the pressure of upholding Princeton's typical academic standards.”
At the time of publication, the petition had garnered more than 2,700 signatures.
The petition comes after the University announced that classes would be moved online for at least two weeks after spring break and urged many students to stay home after the break. As a result, many students have had no choice but to modify their travel plans and alter their study schedules, causing significant stress. The University’s inadvertent release of an unfinished policy, which prematurely revealed classes would be held online, compounded this stress and left students extremely confused the night before midterms began. General confusion has persisted as of the time of writing.
This disruption has generated disparate impacts across the student body. As the petition noted, “international students (which make up about 25 percent of the student body) are especially distressed because they’re not sure whether they should or will be able to come back following the three-week period.”
Students with health conditions that put them particularly at risk, or whose family members are particularly at risk, have expressed their concerns. Furthermore, some students may face difficulties participating in online classes due to financial or geographic barriers.
In addition, professors have responded to these concerns in a variety of ways, as some have moved their midterms online or postponed them. These inconsistencies, as well as underlying student anxieties, warrant the University’s attention.
This Editorial Board holds that the University owes its students a prompt reevaluation of how midterms are weighted. While we don’t know what portion of the petition’s signees are currently enrolled students, the rapid nature with which the petition spread reveals the significant concerns of much of the student body.
A simple acknowledgement of the petition is insufficient. Rather, the Board demands a comprehensive reevaluation that will lead to a change in how midterms are weighted. We are prepared to offer specific policy recommendations as the situation develops further.
144TH EDITORIAL BOARD
Zachariah W. Sippy ’22
Benjamin Ball ’21
Shannon E. Chaffers ’22
Rachel Kennedy ’21
Kate Lee ’23
Madeleine Marr ’21
Jonathan A. Ort ’21
Elizabeth Parker ’21
Emma Treadway ’22
Ivy Truong ’21
Cy Watsky ’21