According to a recently obtained access-to-information request, many students at Memorial University of University (MUN) have had issues with professors grading and returning their work in a timely manner during the COVID-19 pandemic. These issues have always existed at MUN but recently it seemed to have increased significantly. The below questions and comments were submitted through email to MUN President Vianne Timmons regarding the recent Student Town Hall event.
A student stated that “many of my classmates and I have experienced increased stress and anxiety with the increased number of cases in the province while balancing the semester’s demands. For example, in one of my classes, I had gone weeks waiting for grading of midterm, followed by the professor not being able to continue teaching the course, allowing for another professor to pick up where they left off.”
An engineering student who is graduating this semester stated that “since the semester started it has been impossible, and speaking to classmates, I know it is not just me. We have been asked to be compassionate towards the faculty, but I do not feel as though this compassion is reciprocated.”
“A deliverable scheduled almost every day…, making it impossible to take a single mental health day.”Student
The student then stated that they have had professors assign them labs that in the past would have been done in groups of four but suddenly the professors wanted them to do the labs individually. The student stated that they have had professors “assign them extra work to do, because ‘it’s a pandemic and it is not like you have anything to do anyway.’” Regarding the Winter break, the student said they found it “comical that it is even called a break” due to having had “a deliverable scheduled almost every day, not counting midterms that were scheduled right after the break, making it impossible to take a single mental health day.”
The student stated that they have had so many professors ask them to be compassionate and understanding when they still have not graded their month-old deliverable and yet when students asked for a day or two extensions, they simply told them that they do not think the students required it. The student stated that they have had professors that posted pre-recorded lectures and did not once interact with them for questions, emails, or even office hours. The student said, “we have had midterms, where we did not even know what we were getting tested on till 4 am on the day of.”
“A lot of us are reaching our hands out for help with no one grabbing our hands.”Student
The student asked the question, “how is this fair? How is it fair that the faculty expects us to show them so much compassion, but they cannot reciprocate?” The student then followed up with an additional question, “how is it fair that this was supposed to be our happiest semester celebrating with friends our graduation, but we cannot even take a day off without failing a deliverable? Where is the compassion towards us?” The student stated that a lot of them have lost a lot during the pandemic and that a lot of students have been stressed and depressed. The student stated, “a lot of us are reaching our hands out for help with no one grabbing our hands.”
The student ended with the following statement “I made sure to share these concerns with professors and university surveys, and yet here we are again, experiencing the same problems. I am not sure what I am asking for in this email but at the very least I believe we as students deserve some compassion too.”
MUN president Vianne Timmons thanked the student for their email and stated that she will be forwarding it to the Dean of Engineering. She said that it is a difficult time, and that the student captured the challenges well. Timmons said that she will be asking the Dean of Engineering to share the students’ experiences with the faculty and that hopefully, this will help.
The students deserve better.
Matt Barter is a third-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.