Petition signers urge University to reconsider face-to-face labs
By David Gomez Jr.
Published Friday, Feb. 12, 2021
At nearly 3,000 signatures on Change.org, TAMIU is facing criticism from the student body for allowing the continuance of face-to-face labs.
“What I would like to happen is for the University to keep all of [its] courses online to stop the potential spread of [COVID-19],” sophomore criminal justice major Karen Gonzalez said. “A small risk is still a risk at the end of the day.”
She persists her advocacy for online courses at Texas A&M International University since she fell ill to COVID-19 before.
“I’ve personally been impacted horrendously by COVID last August right after giving birth and being hospitalized myself,” Gonzalez added.
Since Jan. 28, the creator of the petition sought out advice from her peers before stepping on any proverbial toes.
“Classmates, who have inspired me as well to start the petition, had mentioned emailing TAMIU and they told them to drop,” Gonzalez said. “Some cannot afford to drop their class due to their plan, or need the course in order to graduate.”
Another student received firsthand experience in the labs last semester.
“During [my] fall semester, we were instructed it was safe to attend labs as long as we kept our distance,” junior biology major Jessica Torres said. “My lab was mostly researching about our campus environment, but there were many instances where we were made to do things, such as observing and collecting data, and this would cause us to be within 6 feet of each other.”
TAMIU President Pablo Arenaz could not be reached in time for comments before the publication date, but the Office of the President did update its COVID-19 response page on Feb. 1.
“While we appreciate students’ legitimate concerns about lab courses, the start date of our Spring semester courses has not changed since initially communicated in October,” an updated post on the University’s COVID-19 response page reads.
Torres said she witnessed another mishandling of the lab.
“At one point, one of my lab members got exposed by her roommate [in] on-campus housing due to a party,” Torres said. “The crazy thing is that they kept it a secret and didn’t plan on telling us.
“It turned into this whole situation, and there was nothing my lab group could do. We were simply told to ‘drop the course’ if we were to get sick, since it was impossible to make up for labs.”
Despite the tension, Gonzalez remains optimistic of TAMIU’s future decisions.
“I’m hoping TAMIU can adapt as other universities and colleges, being strictly virtual in order to keep their students, staff, administration and their community safe,” Gonzalez said.