With increasing dissatisfaction from the undergraduate student body regarding the ANU’s handling of the ACT lockdown, ANUSA has petitioned the ANU for various changes to policies.
The first and most popular concession is the implementation of a week-long teaching break to allow students to prepare better for wholly online learning, and to prepare for lockdown in general. Almost 5000 students have signed a petition calling for the teaching break, arguing that “Students cannot focus on academic study, deadlines and exams when they are being told they are close contacts or casual contacts…”. In a post to ANU Schmidtposting, ANUSA President Madhumitha Janangara said that the Academic Board of the ANU is holding an emergency meeting today to discuss the outcome of academic leniency.
ANUSA is pushing for the Census date to be postponed from the 31st of August to later in September. After the Census date, students must pay for the cost of the course they are enrolled in, either up-front or through the HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP schemes. However, Janangara told Woroni of the difficulties in postponing the date, citing that some tutors and academics get paid on Census date and any movement of the day would result in a delay in payment.
ANUSA is also advocating for the ANU to reinstate the Course Requirement Satisfied / Course Requirement Not Satisfied (CRS/CRN) grading system. Students at the ANU have launched a petition to call for its reinstatement. Students who receive a CRS will have the course count towards their degree, but it will not contribute to their GPA. CRS/CRN was introduced in 2020 in response to the initial Covid-19 outbreak, and, following another ANUSA petition, was continued this year on a case by case basis.
ANUSA is also encouraging greater leniency in documentation for deferred exams and special considerations and adding vaccination-related illness and lockdown as justifiable reasons, with personal statement sufficing.
To support students more generally, ANUSA has established a Grocery Hamper delivery service for students living off-campus who need groceries or Personal Protective Equipment. Currently, these hampers will be delivered from this weekend, (the 21st and 22nd) and are not available to students living on campus.
ANUSA will also hold a Special General Meeting (SGM) on Tuesday the 24th to vote on reallocating its funds towards student support. Concurrent to this, ANUSA is advocating that the ANU increase funding of student support services.
Concurrent to these student-wide relief measures, ANUSA is also advocating for additional assistance to be given to Senior Residents, Community Coordinators and other student leaders who have been tasked with additional duties during this outbreak. At most residential halls on campus, SR’s and other student leaders were asked to deliver meals to students under the Enhanced Stay at Home Orders. Very few of these students have been granted academic exemptions or extensions, and some students complained of a lack of adequate PPE, although the ANU can provide SRs with surgical masks if required. ANUSA support for these students will include fast tracking academic exemptions, and to prioritise them for ANU Counselling services.
In a post on ANU Schmidtposting, Janangara stated that “We’ve always had to fight for the things we ended up achieving or securing, but we did always manage to succeed in time…”.