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(December 14, 2000, Gazette)

Looking back

By Mary MacGillivray

For students, stress levels usually rise and reach a crescendo during exam time. Unfortunately, this semester there is a special amendment to this trend. The post-strike confusion affects many students still. To this, some would merely say “bah humbug.” After all, the strike was not that long. Perhaps the length of the strike is not the real issue where students are concerned. More important is the loss of momentum due to the overall disruption in the flow of studies. During the strike, students were not sure whether the semester would continue or not. From a student’s perspective, this waste of the time and money has been unfair. Some students will have lower marks than usual as a result of the distraction. For those who have completed the semester without having to drop a course, the management of post-strike schedules has been a crash course in itself.

The support of those who have been concerned with academic difficulties caused by the interruption of the term is surely appreciated. There has been the shuffling of deadlines, causing both relief and stress for a lot of students. As a result of later dates, many assignments were handed in closer to exam time than usual. Unfortunately, in some cases, students simply were not able to receive all term grades before the final exam. Having to guess at term averages as one enters into final exams is problematic. Usually it is useful to know what is required in order to achieve the standard that one has set for oneself.

Naturally the unexpected time out of class was valuable, and even great fun for some. Knowing that lectures were cancelled, who could refuse the opportunity to water forgotten plants and take care of other important business?

Moreover, if students were assured that the semester was actually going to resume, the extra study time would have been welcomed. Ignoring this state of uncertainty, some students may have worked at a normal pace, relying on developed time management skills. Realistically, is it fair to expect most students to respond well when put out of school with no instruction? Students pay for consecutive lectures as a way of learning with the aid of discipline. The drop date for classes was pushed ahead to Dec. 5 and some students took bittersweet “advantage” of this.

Courses could be dropped “without academic prejudice.” This is a “break” for students who had to make use of it, and an excuse for students who would impulsively lop off part of their workload. So was it such a great idea to lift the academic prejudice?

This specific date in December was chosen with the intention that students would have acquired mid-term marks by then, and would know whether or not a quick getaway was required. The line up at the registrar’s office was long on the fifth of December. A lot of students stood waiting with drop forms in hand, here there and everywhere. Someone was actually overheard saying to the receptionist, “Okay, so I want to drop all of my courses, am I supposed to tell that to you or ... ?” To have to take a course over again is unfortunate, repeating the whole semester is disastrous.

The politics of the strike were interesting and disrespect is not the aim of this rant. From my point of view, the needs of students were improperly handled, which rendered the students the victims of the strike, instead of just innocent bystanders. It is somewhat ironic that students have ended up losing money in this situation. After all, technically speaking, the university had a contract with the students to provide a full term of education. This is what students paid for.

Thankfully ‘tis the season to be merry, and some good Christmas cheer will certainly come in handy. After all, the New Year brings with it a brand new semester.

Editor’s note: The university is developing a policy to address tuition for courses dropped in the wake of the recent faculty strike.

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