Thursday, February 3, 2022
Los Angeles Times, UCLA Students Stage Sit-In, Demand Online Options as UC In-Person Return Sparks Division:
UCLA students staged a sit-in Monday to demand continued online learning options as the University of California’s reopening of classrooms amid the continuing pandemic sparked widespread division over remote vs. in-person instruction.
After a largely in-person fall term, the UC system’s nine undergraduate campuses shifted to remote classes through January as a precaution against the highly contagious Omicron variant. But the return to mostly in-person classes — encouraged by high vaccination rates and signs that the surge has peaked — is anything but smooth.
At UCLA, more than 1,300 people supported a petition urging a boycott of classes Monday and demanding student flexibility to choose between in-person and remote options. Groups representing disability rights advocates, underrepresented students and undergraduate student leadership joined forces to organize a sit-in at the campus administration building and vowed to continue the protest until their demands for online access and educational equity were met.
By early evening, dozens of students sat along a hallway, equipped with blankets, laptops and food; Chancellor Gene Block’s office doors were plastered with fliers accusing UCLA of not caring about Black students or those with disabilities. ...
In a statement, UCLA said it recognized the students’ concerns, respected their right to express their views and was “deeply committed” to equity. The campus returned to in-person learning “based on a careful assessment of the current public health situation, including that COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates are rapidly declining on campus and across Los Angeles County, and that many eligible Bruins have received the required boosters,” the statement said.