St. Edward’s needs to better accommodate student needs


Juan Diaz / Hilltop Views

According to a survey conducted by the American College Health Association, a higher number of students — 30.5 percent compared to 21.9 percent last Fall — reported that their mental health negatively affected their academic performance on at least six days during the prior four weeks.

With midterms among us, conflicts with student’s schedules are starting to form. Even though we have been doing online classes since March, many of us are still struggling to adjust to this new normal. Is St. Edward’s adequately accommodating students’ needs? 

The university provides free resources such as Adobe Creative Cloud, which is worth over $600 depending on which apps you need. The Office of Information Technology (OIT) is also offering technical support in a timely manner. Although this is something, for the amount of money students pay to go to school here, it just isn’t enough. 

Many professors speak about being understanding in these trying times, but when the time comes, are they actually willing to cooperate? The attendance policies vary among classes, but in some, students have the ability to miss two to three days without penalty. After they reach the limit, they are either dropped from the class or fail. This puts many students in a tough situation. Do they ignore their crippling mental health and suck it up like previous generations tell us to?  

Personally, having to balance my home life (Barrientos) of being a full-time caregiver for my disabled mother, doing a full load of schoolwork and having to sit in front of a camera for two to three hours is rough. Even when teachers know about a home situation, some still have high expectations. Online learning is not for everyone and with some students speaking out about their struggles with it, the school should take it upon itself to make it a bit easier on students and not leave policy up to professors individually. 

While online classes are a safe way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus, the school and professors need to understand that this isn’t a positive long-term solution. Some often think that since a large portion of us are at home, we’re more likely to get our work done. This isn’t the case for many students as some might come from households that need their help putting food on the table or taking care of their siblings or family members. Other times, their own household is a toxic place that puts a strain on their mental health. For me (Melchor), I do a large portion of the housework to help my single, working mother of two kids out. I usually won’t start my assignments until 8 p.m. or later. Professors need to understand that academics can’t be the only thing on students’ minds 24/7. Sometimes being on campus and going to the library is the only way for students to focus and get their school work done. Since March, many have not been able to do this and are struggling immensely. In a study done by the CDC, they discovered that the rate of anxiety and depression among young adults (18-24), has risen up to 40.9% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The constant stress of trying to balance basic home life and school life is difficult for many. 

While St. Edward’s has been accommodating, it could be better. Last semester, St. Edward’s gave the students the choice on whether or not their final grades would reflect on their GPA. This resulted in allowing students to choose the pass/no pass rule. Last semester’s change had a large impact academically on the student community, and being able to choose pass/fail helped relieve some stress. Having all the classes pass/no pass again, could help students and alleviate stress about grades. Being more lenient with deadlines is also ideal. Things happen, and emergencies come up. That paper that’s due in two hours is the last thing on your mind at those times. It’s hard to catch up when life gets ahead of you.