This means that Newcastle students whose assessment performance was affected by Floyd’s death will be able to apply for a Personal Extenuating Circumstances (PEC) form. Submitting such a form allows for an adjustment to affected studies. This can include a deadline extension for an essay, or the authorisation of missed lectures and seminars.
Similar policies have been put in place by six other universities
Similar policies have been put in place at Oxford, Loughborough, Sheffield, Warwick, University College London and the University of the Arts London (UAL). According to reporting by The Telegraph, Warwick, Loughborough and UAL all go a step further in what they will class as extenuating or mitigating circumstances. UAL will consider general “concerns about structural racism”, and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed Floyd’s death. Meanwhile, Warwick have encouraged minority ethnic students to alert the University to mitigating circumstances surrounding “racial trauma”. Warwick will also class not just the death of Floyd, but also the reporting and social media coverage surrounding his death as extenuating circumstances.
The policy received national attention after a student campaign at Oxford University
The policy has received national attention after Oxford pledged that they would implement it. The pledge came after a student campaign at Oxford University for black students to be considered for mitigating circumstances in the light of Floyd’s death. The campaigners asserted that watching videos of Floyd dying had left black students “traumatised”.
Floyd's death has sparked a wave of protests and counter-protests across the US and UK. These took on new relevance for Newcastle, when a protest was held by Grey’s Monument that turned violent. Counter-protesters threw glass bottles and gas canisters at protesters, resulting in 11 arrests.
The PEC form system has landed the University in controversy before
The previous use of PEC forms at Newcastle University has been controversial. In November 2019, it emerged the University seemed only to be accepting bereavement-related PEC forms when death certificates and funeral orders of service were provided.
Speaking of the University's more recent policy, a Newcastle student said it was "understandable to give PECs". She explained that footage of George Floyd's death was "horrendous to watch. It makes me afraid and sick".