Students treated poorly by WLU
University students have long been on the front lines of political and social change. They played a key role in the civil rights movements during the 1960s and were influential in political uprisings such as Prague Springs or Tiananmen Square.
With such an important historical role one would expect that university students would be entitled to some respect. However, I have found that university students are more often than not treated like second-class citizens and held in contempt by wider society.
The recent rise of stoner and frat films like Animal House, Old School and Van Wilder portray students as drunken morons who are the scum of society. Popular culture seems to convey a general message that students are irresponsible, indifferent and less deserving of competent service than the average population.
While I have found my experience in university to be an overwhelmingly positive one, I have also found that there is a somewhat careless attitude towards students.
There are certain things that are clearly visible at Wilfrid Laurier University that would not be tolerated in other parts of society.
Technology at Laurier is ineffective; essential services such as WebCT went down for 10 days starting Nov. 1 2008 and the beginning days of classes last semester.
Also, Laurier Web Information System (LORIS) randomly goes down at inopportune moments, such as last summer when I was trying to register for my classes. It took me between four and five hours to select courses because LORIS was constantly crashing due to its inability to handle high traffic loads.
As this traffic load is fairly predictable every year, it makes one wonder why the university has not permanently resolved this issue yet.
The new syllabus policy is yet another example of the university mistreating students. Not only are syllabi not given out in class, but they are often difficult to locate as they are scattered haphazardly throughout the Laurier website.
Students are then chided for not having one printed off. Seeing as how a syllabus is supposed to represent a contract between the student and professor it seems strange that one is supposed to agree to a contract that is not particularly visible or accessible.
You would not, for instance, buy a car from someone who sent you on a quest to find the contract. This inconsideration extends far beyond simple technological ineptitude.
Getting textbooks is yet another ordeal. There is no excuse for incomplete booklists being presented as finished products, such as this semester when the final booklist was not published until Jan. 6, despite it supposedly being finished in December.
There are also times when books are not available, such as both my philosophy in film textbooks which will be about two weeks late.
This inability to follow deadlines would be the kiss of death in the corporate world, but here it is treated as a slight inconvenience that students can do nothing about.
I feel that the university administration often champions higher education as a privilege and that students should be grateful for whatever they get and that they should not complain or question obvious problems. I have found this to be a strange concept considering the high cost we pay directly through tuition and indirectly through our taxes.
Change appears to be in the air with politicians like U.S. president Barack Obama, who has based his rise to power on the support of youth, and Liberal party leader Michael Ignatieff, who has toured Canadian universities in an effort to garner support. There has been some restoration to student respect; however, a defiant stigma remains.
Students should not have to tolerate condescension or incompetence and should expect and demand higher standards and respect both from their school and from society in general.