Explaining the early start

Tuesday morning saw students at Wilfrid Laurier University heading back to class, while students at most other Ontario universities continued enjoying the luxury of sleeping in.

McMaster University, York University and the University of Waterloo were the only other Ontario universities to return to class on Jan. 3.
Many students and professors have been wondering why the holiday break was so abrupt. With the fall exam schedule going until Dec. 21, and classes resuming on Jan. 3, students and professors are unimpressed.

However, Ray Darling, WLU’s registrar, explained there was little to be done about this year’s fall exam schedule. With the loss of the St. Michael’s Campus, which provided rooms for exams, combined with the growing number of students at WLU, resulted in a longer exam period.

He also explained that last year, Sundays were used for exams, which shortened the period, but that caused more issues. Because of religious accommodations, Sundays can no longer be used.

“Sunday is a day that students can count on for a study day,” Darling added

Sarah Pawelko, a second-year medieval studies student, wrote two exams on December 21. “I wasn’t too happy [about it],” she stated. “And it’s not like they were exams that didn’t correspond with one another.”

Jason Sager, a professor within the history department, expressed similar feelings.

“I have to have exam marks in within 96 hours from the writing of the exam … to have an exam on the 21st would have made me rush,” he explained.

But does having such a late fall exam schedule, coupled with an early start date in January, cause more problems? According to Darling, having an early start date for second semester is normal.

Darling explained that academic dates are set by guidelines passed by the senate each year, which have been in place since 1979.

“If Jan. 3 falls on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, then that is the start of class, if it falls on any other day of the week [class] starts the following Monday,” Darling continued. “There is nothing unique about this kind of [early] start.”

Despite these guidelines being in place for so long, anyone with support and logical reasons can bring a motion to senate and changes can be taken into consideration.

“I don’t think anyone [in the registrar’s office] would think [starting early] is unfair,” said Darling. “We just enforce the dates.”

Whether or not it’s fair, students and professors are still coping with the early start.

As well, Sager explained that having such a late exam period, combined with an early start date in January, causes professors to scramble while preparing for the winter term.

“I didn’t have the time to do as much proofreading as I would have liked to,” noted Sager. “It causes you to rush.”

Sager also explained that having an early start results in less students attending classes the first week back.

“I think … students are recovering from New Years, and I don’t just mean from a drunken orgy, I mean people are coming back from vacation or traveling far from home.”

Pawelko was also not satisfied with starting so early. “I feel like we were screwed over …. how is that fair it’s when all of our friends still home and we can’t see our friends anymore?”

Despite academic dates following the same guidelines for roughly thirty years, according to Sager starting later, “Makes more sense.”

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