Castling in universities. Minister Manuel Castells has refused to rectify, as requested by the rectors, and has maintained his recommendation that campuses go on to take online exams due to the worsening of the epidemiological situation due to Covid-19.
Campus representatives maintain their idea of continuing with face-to-face tests and accuse the minister of “populism.” “Is populism talking? What I am asking is that you adjust your perception with that of many students and dialogue with them.
Dialogue is a rule of civility. You cannot be indifferent to the outcry in the face of the worsening pandemic and simply maintain it. expected in a situation of extreme gravity “, Castells responded this Thursday in a virtual press conference.
The rectors and Castells have starred in one of the biggest confrontations that are remembered in the university. For weeks, students have been asking for exams to be held online and showing photographs of crowds at the entrances to classrooms and at the exit of public transport.
The minister met with them a few days ago and agreed with them in everything, something that annoyed the rectors, who say that these images are “specific cases” that have already been solved and argue that, if the health authorities have ruled that the campuses are safe, Castells should not come to question it.
This Wednesday Castells launched a message on Twitter asking to change, in the middle of the exams, to an online evaluation model , to which the rectors responded with a harsh statement in which they accused him of “disloyalty” and of “damaging the quality of the teaching”.
“First health and then academic quality,” the minister replied. “Last year the online exams were taken in June and there were no major problems, I don’t see why there should be now.”
It is the universities that have university autonomy to, following instructions from the health authorities of their autonomous community, decide how the exams are done and what restrictions are taken in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Castells has insisted a lot on this during his speech, but, at the same time, he wanted to make “a call for responsibility to the deans”.
“Listen and do not think that the images that the students are sending to the media are being invented. What I am asking is that your concern be heard. Universities say they are not right, that there is no problem, but if there is not, why do so many people think there is? Also, even if there is only one faculty in that students think that health is not being respected, you have to take care “.
Castells has called the General Conference on University Policy to discuss the matter and has said that he will meet again with the students and with the rectors. He has also spoken with the new Minister of Health, Carolina Darias , who is going to raise the debate in the Interterritorial Health Council to “investigate” and “make a report” in order to verify “if what thousands of students say is a gigantic hoax and they have gone crazy “or it has a trace of credibility.
The rectors, for their part, insist that the images “do not conform to reality” of the campuses and are recording the course of the exams. They insist that the minister has generated “unjustified social alarm”.
“I have not created the social alarm, it is that there is a social alarm. If someone does not find out, read the press and watch television, social alarms are not invented,” said Castells, who insists that it is limited to “to echo a concern of a part of the university community” and urge the rectors “to take heed.”
The Minister of Science, Universities and Innovation of the Community of Madrid, Eduardo Sicilia, has nevertheless acknowledged that there have been “incidents” at the Autonomous University and the Complutense University due to “crowds at the entrance” which, as he has indicated, ” have been resolved. ”
He has challenged Castells to, “if there really is data, and the Ministry of Health says there is data, that in universities it is contagious, that universities close, that he make a decree. That he uses the instruments he has.”