The Globe’s Point: Remote students deserve respect

A few weeks ago, Point Park announced its intentions to go back to in-person learning for the Fall 2021 semester. 

To be clear, Pioneers, this is something we are more than fine with, as long as the administration is able to safely implement this kind of measure. Many of our staff have been taking remote classes in some form—some of us exclusively being remote these past two and a half semesters—and the experience has been…mixed, to say the least. 

We’re grateful to Point Park for providing remote classes as an option, especially for those who are immuno-compromised or vulnerable or for those living with those individuals. At first, the rollout was less than perfect, but we had never been in this kind of situation before. The mishaps at the end of the Spring 2020 semester were understandable. 

Of course, the quality of remote classes has varied with the quality of instructor, same as we would expect for in-person courses. However, there has been a noticeable pattern with the classes that have been lacking—remote students being treated differently, and in many cases, disparagingly compared to their in-person peers. 

This has to be prefaced first by saying that this is not the case for all hybrid classes, and some in-person students have even expressed feeling their online classmates being put first. However, overwhelmingly, we at The Globe have experienced and heard accounts of professors believing their remote students to “probably be sleeping,” “distracting” themselves and generally disengaged from the class because they can hide behind a screen. 

We want to remind the professors of remote students’ commitment to learning and why exactly this option has been provided for the last two and a half semesters in the first place. Remote students did not choose this option to be able to scroll on their phones in their class—students had already been doing that in your classrooms well before this pandemic started. They opted for this because a deadly, highly contagious global pandemic has made in-person education drastically more dangerous than it was before. Some remote students had no option but to be totally remote for their classes depending on theirs or their loved ones’ health conditions. 

To continually demean and sometimes academically punish remote students for the failures of a few taking advantage of the system is an insult not only to those students but to one of Point Park’s core values: respect. 

We’re not expecting you to be perfect, instructors. We know how hard this pandemic and everything that has come with it has been on all of us. But in these last three weeks of remote learning, we’re hoping you’ll take our words into consideration and treat us with the respect we deserve.