Student organisations pen open letter: Please move exams back online

Due to the rising infection numbers, students are worried about having to sit on-site exams. Eight student organisations wrote their concerns in an open letter to the UG board of directors, pleading with them to move exams online and to be more lenient with resits.

Dear Mr. De Vries, Mrs. Wijmenga, and Mr. Biemans,

We write this letter to express our concern on the coming on-site exams. The numbers of Covid infections in the Netherlands has sharply risen in recent weeks. Several weeks ago, the government declared a lockdown that included closure of higher education. However, exams were made exempt, which means the government feels they can continue on site.

People were protesting this decision even before the Christmas vacation. Especially internationals students were worried about the safety in and around the exam halls. They weren’t sure if people would be able to keep their distance or whether the ventilation at the Aletta Jacobs Hall was up to par.

Now that infection records are being broken one after the other, many students have been infected, and the previous exam period showed that social distancing is an illusion, we understand these students’ concerns better than ever. Online exams guarantee everyone’s safety and ensure that infected students don’t suffer unnecessary study delays.

Supposedly, students also sit exams when they’ve tested positively

If it’s truly impossible to move the exams online, at least provide an extra resit for students who have to forgo sitting an exam because they tested positively or because they are in quarantine. Other universities, like the Catholic University of Leuven, already implemented this policy.

The UG disappointingly promises that ‘the exam committee will determine whether to allow a resit on a case-by-case basis’. This ‘promise’ doesn’t offer students much security and leads to a perverse incentive to sit an exam even when a person’s tested positive.

We have indeed heard various students say they would still sit an exam even if they tested positive. They don’t want to run the risk to fall even further behind in their studies.

Dear board of directors, we all want this pandemic to be over. We, too, would love education to go back to the way it was, but the current infection rate quite simply prevents that.

Our request is quite simple: please make sure that exams are safe. Make everything available online one last time or guarantee an extra resit for those who are infected. This will allow everyone to make it through the exam period safely. Hopefully, the exams can go back to ‘normal’ afterwards.

Best wishes,

Marc de Groot and Onno de Wal, on behalf of eight Groningen student organisations: Ten Behoeve van Rechtenstudenten, Studenten Organisatie Groningen (SOG), Lijst Calimero, Doughnut Party, De Vrije Student (university council, Arts faculty council, Law faculty council in collaboration with Progressief Rechten, Economy and Business faculty council), Student Collective of Economics and Business, Letteren Vooruit, Groninger Studenten Bond

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