OPINION: DePaul should reimplement accommodations for students


Eric Henry

A student walks along the Quad, located in Lincoln Park.

Election Day was quite different this year. Businesses were boarded up in anticipation of potential protests, results took longer than we normally experience and on top of that, a global pandemic accompanied with unemployment and racial tensions. 

With all that is going on, students are stressed and unable to focus on academics. Due to the nature of our Vincentian values we’re always thinking what must be done to make the world a better place. By not implementing accommodations for students this fall quarter, DePaul University is irresponsibly putting students’ mental health at risk.

Covid-19 hit the United States back in March, causing high unemployment numbers and a global health crisis across the world. People were, and still are, seeing their loved ones suffer from the potentially deadly virus. Intense racial tensions have been brought to the forefront due to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake and countless police brutality cases. These issues are far from over, with Covid-19 numbers rising at an intense rate and racial tension still very prevalent throughout our society. Not to mention, it is an election year.

Along with the traditional election year stress, President Donald Trump is claiming that there are several cases of election fraud with no evidence supporting his claim, saying that the election was rigged against him. This could cause extended investigations into the election causing even further stress to DePaul students.

Businesses were boarding up with anticipation of violence after the election results got released. Right in the heart of DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus, the CVS on Fullerton was boarded up with plywood, in fear of what would come when the results of the election got released. Seeing businesses right by your school, where you learn and socialize with friends, prepare for an election by boarding up in anticipation for violence, is something nobody would ever imagine.

It forced me to reflect on our current political state, leading me to think to myself, “I don’t remember other elections causing this kind of response, there is so much fear of what will happen regardless of who is elected.” The fear of Trump not accepting the results if he lost and the fear of what is to come if Trump wins the presidency, is what I determined is the root of this fear in Chicago. 

Last spring, DePaul recognized the stress that Covid-19 and racial tensions were having on their students. The university was kind enough to give accommodation to allow students to take care of themselves first. A true implication of the saying “take care DePaul.” 

These accommodations were given to DePaul Students in the spring , according to email sent to students on Jun. 6, 2020:

  1. “To award, at the student’s request, a final course grade on the basis of materials due by May 29, 2020, assuming that at least 70% of the graded materials, according to the learning goals of the course, had been submitted by that date.”
  2. “Complete the course as expected, with the understanding that the final exams and/or projects may be determined optional by faculty, and all work submitted after May 29, 2020, cannot reduce the final grade.” 
  3. “To award, at the student’s request, an Incomplete (IN) without explanation and subject to all rules regarding incomplete grades, including a satisfactory record in the work already completed for the course. Faculty will clearly inform students about completing the material within a specific deadline, as per the IN policy. Note that degree conferral is June 22nd, and therefore graduating students would need to have their IN grade resolved prior to this date.”

“I think that this election can be particularly stressful for some students because it comes at a unique period in time where we are experiencing many stressors layered on top of each other,” said Jocelyn Smith Carter, an associate professor of psychology at DePaul, in an email. 

“We have ongoing stressors such as racial injustice that impact our society as a whole and the Covid-19 pandemic that creates a lot of new stressors – figuring out the best time to go to the grocery store and deciding whether you can safely see friends,” Carter said.

On Nov. 5, DePaul’s Student Government Association passed a resolution that would accommodate these changes. This would allow students to carry out their courses without worrying that their grades would be impacted in a negative manner. These changes would be the same as those put in place last spring and are still set to be approved by the university.

“I definitely believe the elections have been causing stress on many students, especially marginalized communities that will be adversely affected by the results of the elections,” said Alyssa Isberto, president of the SGA. “Many peoples’ lives and rights are on the line with this election; the stress associated with waiting for results serves as a huge distraction to academic requirements.”

Wesley Janicki, SGA’s executive vice president of facility operations, said that while the vote passed unanimously through SGA, he is not confident that it will pass through the faculty council.

DePaul students can advocate for these changes by filling out this form.