Baylor administration yet to address high-risk student protest

Aledo senior Madi Snow set up a petition asking Baylor to protect those at a higher risk for COVID-19. Photo illustration by Grace Everett

By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer

Apart from quick, informal conversations from Baylor faculty who walked past her protesting at Pat Neff Hall, Aledo senior Madi Snow said she has not had any response from Baylor administration regarding her petition asking the school to protect those at a higher risk for COVID-19.

The petition Snow created is primarily aimed at Baylor’s attendance policy and lack of online options for students during the current stage of the pandemic. She said she submitted the petition, a survey containing qualitative data of high-risk student experiences, a list of grievances with the current policies and a list of solutions to the President’s Advisory Council about a week and a half ago. Snow said she has yet to receive a reply.

Snow said she believes there is a “huge issue” of equity on campus for students with disabilities. She also called Baylor’s attendance policy “ableist.”

“The OALA office has a lot of resources that are fitting for students who are neurodivergent or have learning disabilities or certain kinds of needs in the classroom, but makes almost no allowance for students with dynamic disabilities and chronic illnesses,” Snow said. “There’s also a lot of problems with the infrastructure of the university as far as physical accessibility, where certain university buildings are technically in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act but are incredibly inaccessible for students with mobility issues.”

Baylor spokesperson Lori Fogleman said via email that any student requiring accommodation should reach out to the Office of Access and Learning Accommodation (OALA). She also said students voicing their concerns is an important part of Baylor being an R1 institution.

“We appreciate that our students have the ability to voice their concerns and express their convictions in informed and respectful ways as part of the marketplace of ideas on our campus,” Fogleman said.

In an earlier interview with Lariat TV News (LTVN), Dr. Wesley Null, vice provost for undergraduate education and institutional effectiveness, said there is no university-wide attendance policy anymore, and the different schools and colleges at Baylor can choose whether or not they want to adhere to the 75% required attendance policy.

Null also said that Baylor is encouraging professors to accommodate students who test positive or have to quarantine for COVID-19 and that students should refer to their course syllabi for attendance policies.

“When we moved away from the university-wide 75% rule about a decade ago, what we expected schools and colleges to do is consider that on their own,” Null said. “When I say school or college, I mean School of Business, College of Arts and Sciences, Robins College of Health and Human Sciences, School of Education. That’s the level at which attendance policies are set. If a student wants to know the ultimate home for attendance for a particular class, they need to look at the syllabus for that class.”

Snow said the list of solutions addressed the attendance policy and lack of hybrid access for at-risk students. She said if hybrid access were guaranteed, many other issues such as the revised testing policy and attendance policy would be resolved. She also said the biggest solution offered was mandating professors to provide hybrid access to high-risk students, not just encouraging professors to work with students.

“Our priority was the university not just encouraging professors to work with students who have extenuating circumstances around COVID, but protecting high-risk students by requiring professors to provide equal hybrid access to their courses in a way that does not risk a high-risk person’s grade — being penalized for attendance or the missing of in-class assignments — and a high-risk person can still receive all of the content delivered in a lecture format or in classes while still maintaining their personal safety,” Snow said.