The pandemic has changed everyone’s lives in so many ways, and for awhile there, it seemed like experiencing a collective trauma like this might make people more empathetic. Just about everyone was struggling, or at risk of struggling, and as long as we ignored that unfortunate video by Gal Gadot and friends, we could believe that many of us, outside of the particularly rich, really were in similar boats.
But many people’s personal experiences throughout the last two years have shown that empathy hasn’t actually prevailed at all, and one TikToker’s video is reminding others of how far we have to go.
Jill Stone (@jillstonee) posted an email exchange she had last month with a professor at her university, noting that she was making a TikTok as her “coping mechanism” after their interaction. According to her bio, she’s based in Maryland.
“This morning I tested positive for covid so I will not be able to attend class for the excel quiz,” she wrote.
The TikToker included what looks to be some sort of medical note confirming her positive test, and clarified which class she was in.
A follow-up email from the professor simply thanked Stone for letting her know, but then said, “Given the nature of Excel based quiz, I won’t provide make up test.”
Having to choose between coming to class sick and missing an important test, or between going to work sick and getting fired or not making enough money to pay bills, is something many people have faced over the years.
Even though that should never be the case, there’s something particularly egregious about it when we’re dealing with a worldwide pandemic that has regularly disrupted lives for the past two years and which we are all desperate to get under control. Going to class (or work) while infected with COVID would be selfish and irresponsible, and making that choice difficult for people instead of a no-brainer isn’t right.
Educators, of all people, should understand that, and viewers were ready to call the absurdity out.
“This happened to me this spring,” @airpodjuulpod wrote. “Just tell him ‘nvm I’ll just show up’ and watch him change his mind.”
“Go to your dean right now! There’s no way this is university policy bc schools require you to not go to class if you have Covid,” suggested @k222250.
Another viewer theorized that “some people become teachers and professors just to go on a power trip.”
Threatening to come to class with COVID was easily the most popular type of response, but Stone ultimately decided to email her professor again and plead her case.
After some chatting, she says her professor ultimately agreed to not include the quiz in her grade at all, allowing her to stay safely isolated while dealing with COVID and satisfying her professor’s claim that she couldn’t give any sort of make-up quiz.
All’s well that ends well for this particular college student, but the fact that these are still conversations that are having to happen at all isn’t a great reflection on the state of society.
The Daily Dot has contacted @jillstonee for further comment.
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