• By Kelsie Crough

Student’s petition calls for change in CCU's COVID-19 accommodation policy


Jessica Bauwens, creator of the petition, in front of the Lib Jackson Student Union. Photo courtesy, Kelsie Crough.

A student started a petition against Coastal Carolina University insisting on a change in the accommodation policy for students sick with COVID-19.

CCU sophomore and creator of the petition, Jessica Bauwens said that when she tested positive for the coronavirus, her professors denied her the option of joining class via Zoom due to university policy. Bauwens said she wrote an email to CCU’s president, Michael Benson about the issue, and posted about it on her TikTok account. The support from people on TikTok led Bauwens to create the petition.

“Based off the response, it made it very clear that I was not the only person that was afraid of having to struggle through class,” Bauwens said.

According to Bauwen’s petition, students need to be accommodated with Zoom links or recorded lectures, excused absences, and extended deadlines if sick with COVID-19 or awaiting test results. The petition says there needs to be a clear accommodation policy that every professor should follow.

CCU senior and signer of the petition, Scarlett Shifflett said that she has not seen professors following the current policy. Shifflett said that one of her professors would not excuse her absences even though she was out with COVID-19 symptoms and waiting for a test. She and her roommate struggled to communicate with the university and professors on how they should manage not being in class due to these COVID-related issues. This was around the time she found Bauwen’s TikTok post.

“It made me realize that I wasn’t the only one going through this issue,” Shifflett said. “Then when I saw that there were multiple, hundreds of people who signed it, then I saw it was a real problem.”

Bauwens is currently working with the Student Government Association (SGA) to configure her petition into a bill that will implement these changes. She hopes the bill will pass through both the SGA and the Faculty Senate.

“If Coastal really does care about student’s academic success, and getting people these degrees that they deserve,” Bauwens said. “They really need to work towards getting this academic policy put in place.”

SGA officials said in an email sent out on Sept. 23, that the student senators from the Gupta College of Science and HTC Honors College passed the bill on Sept. 20. They said the bill calls for professors to change their COVID-19 Accommodation Policy.

Bauwens said that the petition is currently over 5,000 signatures and that the support and recognition is something she never expected. The petition can be found here on Change.org.

SGA officials said that the bill progress can be found here on their page through Coastal Carolina University’s website.

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