UC Berkeley students react to announcement of mostly online spring semester

photo of sproul plaza
Sunny Shen/File
In the wake of an announcement that students will not be required to take classes in person or be present on campus for the mostly remote spring semester, many addressed the challenges of online learning.

Related Posts

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ’s Tuesday announcement that the majority of the spring semester will be remote was disappointing but expected, according to campus students.

The announcement stated that students will not be required to take classes in person or be present on campus. Christopher Heredia, a senior transfer student, described some of the many challenges he faces as a student studying from home.

“We are no longer just students, especially those of us not on campus,” Heredia said. “We have taken on these larger roles that we would not otherwise have taken if we were on campus.” 

As a student living with high-risk parents, an unstable internet connection and without the luxury of a “nice, quiet place to study,” he said it is difficult when professors do not make accommodations. Heredia explained that he is sometimes unable to attend regularly scheduled lectures because he is running errands for his parents, and he appreciates it when his lectures are recorded.

Campus freshman Jackson Hilton said in a Twitter message that while ensuring student safety is necessary, it was still disappointing to hear that the spring semester will be mostly remote. He added that the prospect of an entire year of exclusively online classes could negatively impact students and their ability to focus and network.

“I feel really bad for the seniors, since they won’t get to have a real last semester, which I can say from experience is one of the worst feelings ever,” Hilton said in a Twitter message. “I definitely think that a lot of people, freshmen especially, will stay at home again for spring. For me personally though, there’s a good chance I’ll move to campus anyway since I’m not sure I can stand being home for another semester.”

Hilton added that he believes many freshmen currently not living on campus are “annoyed” because they will be unable to attend classes on campus and make friends in college.

The announcement on the status of the spring semester also impacted international students.

“As an international student I really look forward to going to the campus but we know due to COVID and the deteriorating relations between China and the US we might not be able to go until at least fall 2021,” said international freshman Yuerou Tang in a Reddit comment. “I really hope at least I can meet my fellow students and have some social life.”

Tang added that she wished she had access to study resources and spaces, and that the pandemic was a major obstacle to students living in other countries who want to leave home to experience college life.

James Weichert, one of the chiefs of staff for the ASUC Office of the Academic Affairs Vice President, said “emphasizing student well-being” in light of spring’s remote status is a main priority.

The ASUC office has three primary goals for the spring semester: fight for an equitable academic environment that takes into account webcam and grading policies, prioritize the most in-need student populations and ensure the quality of online classes so students feel they are getting the most out of their education, according to Weichert.

The office is currently working to raise the one-third pass/no pass unit cap and allow students to take major requirements and prerequisites pass/no pass, he added. It has also been taking suggestions for additional accommodations and listening to student grievances in a Reddit discussion forum.

“Ultimately, it comes down to recognizing that every student is facing their own issues,” Weichert said. “Something we’ve been very clear about in our conversations with administrators is that students have been struggling and it is unacceptable to not do anything in the face of these issues.”

Contact Serene Chang and Aditya Katewa at [email protected].