I Reckon: Mine worker strikes deserve unconditional solidarity

Two miners working on a railroad along a orange-reddish background.
(Aylish Turner | Daily Trojan)

The coronavirus has completely ravaged the country, creating an environment that’s hardly conducive to teaching. The surge of the omicron variant further threatens the viability of in-person classes and social events. It’s paramount that USC develops a more propitious hybrid format so students can still receive adequate educational experience online. 

My fall semester classes offered a Zoom option, but the online setting was fraught with issues. Some professors forgot to send the Zoom link while others wouldn’t check the chat, and online students couldn’t participate in discussion. Some professors even admitted that online students would be at an inherent disadvantage as they wouldn’t be able to see the classroom’s whiteboard. So while the nascence of a hybrid learning environment was a step in the right direction, many Zoom classes only offered a marginal facsimile of in-person classes. 

This spring semester, I’ve continued to see a lack of uniformity across my classes. There is no consensus on how or if professors will allow students to Zoom into class or any general improvements in the online format. Considering the fact that, as of Jan. 30, Los Angeles County reported 16,757 new coronavirus cases, it would behoove USC to enforce consistent hybrid learning options. 

Only one of my four classes this semester offers a Zoom option (upon request) and many of the professors have shared that, if we get sick, it is incumbent upon us to find notes from a peer – they will not offer a Zoom alternative nor a recording of the lecture. The ramifications of this are severe. 

First and foremost, the absence of a Zoom option only heightens anxiety during these already stress-inducing times. In the unfortunate event that I get sick with the coronavirus and need to quarantine, it would be unconscionably difficult to keep up with my academics. I’d have to teach myself material and rely on my peers to supply me with information or class notes. Moreover, if students don’t have an alternative Zoom option, they may feel compelled — most especially as we near midterm season — to attend class even if they feel sick.  

It is also important to note that this disjointed teaching philosophy is infused with ableist ideology. As Daily Trojan wellness & outreach director and staff writer Matthew Eck articulated, “students who do not feel comfortable returning to class for in-person instruction — including immunocompromised students and others with disabilities — must choose between risking their health to take classes in person or pausing their studies.” USC must recognize its ableist tendencies and implore teachers to adopt a supplementary Zoom option. 

While professors each have their own philosophies and teaching values, it is critical that there is a level of agreement regarding Zoom options. 

While most of my professors do not offer online alternatives, some of my peers can choose whether or not they wish to attend class in person. This variance in learning options is inherently unfair for students who may get sick or exposed and who are in jeopardy of falling behind simply because of their particular classes. 

Teaching an in-person class while simultaneously catering to online students is undeniably challenging. While it’s understandable that this teaching format is less than ideal, it is USC’s responsibility to prepare professors so they can offer students a better learning experience during what amounts to be our new normal.