As the University continues to transition back to its pre-COVID-19 status quo, professors’ willingness to comply with their students’ academic accommodations has continued to decrease. During the pandemic, professors were encouraged to be more lenient with extensions and absences, but lately, that has not been the case for many students. 

Students can receive academic accommodation letters after talking to Student Accessibility Support, usually after providing proof of a documented disability. These letters instruct professors to accommodate the needs of students, which can include giving them extensions, extra time on tests, or leniency with absences, among other things. However, according to board members’ experiences, several professors resist, or flat-out refuse, to accept accommodations, leaving students to struggle as though they never received accommodation letters in the first place. Accommodations are not handed out excessively and are designed to allow students to do their best work while dealing with health issues, learning disabilities, and other circumstances. Professors refusing to recognize these needs makes it difficult to foster a healthy learning environment and sends the message that they do not care about any complications in the lives of their students. 

Professors are seemingly required to provide accommodations to students with letters, but this does not appear to be enforced. A member of this board has had professors refuse to accept their accommodations under any circumstances and has had to argue with others despite, entering the University and having already received a letter from SAS. Needing accommodations does not make anyone lesser than others, but the stigma against learning disabilities, or anything else that prevents students from doing their best academically, persists regardless. 

Professors are particularly difficult when it comes to extensions on assignments. Although many are flexible or willing to accommodate the needs of students, there are enough that are resistant to doing so, which is a problem. It has come to the attention of this board that at the beginning of the semester, SAS instructed department heads that if they give an entire class an extension on assignments, students with accommodations should not expect any further extensions and would need to make a case as to why they should receive one. This new guideline renders accommodations functionally useless; if a professor extends the due date of an assignment by a day or two but a student with accommodations for extensions requires more time, there is nothing they can do, despite their already existing accommodations. Although this guideline comes from SAS, it enables professors already unwilling to give extensions to say no to doing so, without breaking any rules, despite SAS claiming to provide “an added support, the removal of a barrier, an adjustment to a policy, or other modification of materials, practices, and spaces” for students. 

Difficulties within the Academic Advising division of Academic Services also exacerbate challenges that students face when planning their course load or pivoting when circumstances dictate. Turnover has been high in recent years, leaving groups of students without a dedicated advisor and increasing wait times for all as the caseload was redistributed. While all students interact with Advising to various degrees, a minimum level of service delivery is expected. Similarly, downstairs at the Hiatt Career Center, excellent advising can come from dedicated advisors for pre-law and pre-health tracks, as well as industry experts in business and natural sciences. Students with majors and interests outside of these are directed to more “one-size-fits-all” solutions that vary in helpfulness.

Coursework can get heavy, and while that is expected of universities such as Brandeis, that does not mean students should be left on their own to balance personal struggles with their schoolwork. SAS was created to accommodate students with physical or mental disabilities that complicate their ability to reach their full academic potential, but it has yet to truly commit to doing so. 

Moreover, the critiques of this board are not new; the Justice has reported extensively on the failure of SAS to truly accommodate students. These new policy changes are simply a new iteration of SAS’s incompetencies. Even so, professors’ ability to understand and accommodate is not reliant on Academic Services, and this board calls on professors to have more patience with their students. Most students take four to five courses and have personal lives that will occasionally conflict with their capacity to perform to the best of their ability. It is the responsibility of a professor to teach, and they should foster environments where their students can learn, rather than punish them for circumstances out of their control.