Photo by Kyle West

By: Eden Wondmeneh

As a first-year student living on residence, I had to cough up an outrageous amount of money for a mediocre living experience.

Following a $600 residence deposit, residence can cost anywhere from $5,800 to $8,825, not including the additional, mandatory cost of a meal plan that ranges from $2,975 to $4,735.

Separate from the fees, incoming students wishing to have a guaranteed residence space on-campus must achieve, at minimum, an 81.5 per cent in their senior year of high school.

It’s as if an acceptance to McMaster is not enough to attend the university, with residence being the only option for many out-of-province students.

Even if you find yourself as one of the almost 3700 students living on McMaster residence, you are expected to move out promptly after your final exam in April. In fact, you are expected to leave residence by 3:00 p.m. on the very next day.

With the average cost of living at Mac being just under $12,000, this deadline does not fit with what students have paid for. It likely exists in order to stagger students’ departure as a way to prevent chaos and large wait times, but for many students it’s an impossible deadline to meet.

As it is an odd request for students to pack up their entire dorm so quickly after their final exams, students with ‘legitimate’ reasons for not being able to meet the deadline can apply for an extension.

Those that can apply for this extension are international and out-of-province students with travel requirements, those with exceptional circumstances or those with academic requirements to fulfill like a new exam or deferred lab. But even if a student has one of these ‘legitimate’ reasons, there is still a chance that the extension won’t be granted.

Ultimately, the terms of the extension application are made so that students who have assignment accommodations, need time before their new lease or sublet agreements take affect, have extracurricular commitments or have storage needs till the end of term have no options and are scrambling to find alternative accommodations.

It’s as if these aren’t legitimate reasons to need to stay in a dorm room, that you have already paid for, until the official end of term.

I am currently struggling to figure out what to do come the end of term. My exams happen to fall on the earlier spectrum of exam season, and since my family is scattered across America during my assigned move-out date, I’m stuck between an alarmingly expensive taxi ride back home or a cheaper but nightmarish, impossible GO bus trip with my 40 pieces of luggage.

My situation is much easier to deal with than those who are from out of town or students with accessibility accommodations, who need to stay in Hamilton for a few days or weeks extra.

The entire purpose of residence is to make university life, both academic and social, accessible and convenient for students; a goal that the move-out policy directly opposes.

Students shouldn’t have to request an extension at all, but for the sake of staggering departure times, students should be able to request and receive an extension for a much broader list of reasons than that which currently exists.

In doing so, McMaster can make exam season a little less strenuous for the students who paid to live on-campus until the end of term.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

By: Justin Temple

Waiting for final grades to be posted is a terrible experience defined by an abundance of anxiety coupled with the constant refreshing of Mosaic. Usually, this biannual waiting game ends before the new year for fall term grades and before the beginning of May for winter term. At that point, the "grade anxiety" faced by so many students, myself included, has subdued.

This time around, however, I am still waiting on a final grade nearly two months after the course ended. A situation like this should never occur at McMaster University and needs to be addressed by mandating grade submission deadlines for course instructors.

Such a mandate is not without precedent. Carleton University requires that instructors submit their final grades within 10 calendar days of the course's final exam. The University of Western Ontario grants instructors even less time, requiring submission of final grades within a week of the final exam.

Besides Carleton and Western, the University of Regina, the University of Victoria, the University of Windsor and Ryerson University are other postsecondary institutions which have implemented grade submission deadlines for instructors. It is evidently not a new idea.  

Despite this, McMaster currently has no policy that requires instructors to submit final grades by a specific deadline. This is beyond an inconvenience and only serves to complicate students’ lives.

For example, should an instructor fail to submit marks by the drop-and-add deadline for a prerequisite course, students' registration in a secondary course may be thrown into limbo.

Simultaneously, students planning on taking a second course based on their performance in the prerequisite class are withheld critical information that would likely dictate their decision to take the second course or not.

Even more alarming, a long delay in the submission of final grades can create a negative impact for students eyeing graduate studies. Given that grades are required to be reported to an applicant's desired graduate school as early as late December, an instructor sitting on their hands can put prospective graduate students in a completely unnecessary pinch.

With so much riding on those applications, McMaster is doing a disservice to its students by failing to force accountability onto its faculty.

Moreover, McMaster’s mission to promote health and wellness amongst its students could be furthered by mandating a grade submission deadline. As the time between when a student finishes a course and subsequently receives their final grade is variable and can last for weeks in length, existing academic anxiety is worsened.

A mark deadline could quell some of the existing anxiety by limiting the amount of time students spend worrying about marks they have yet to receive. Additionally, a grading deadline would provide students with a much more concrete timeframe to expect their marks, limiting any anxiety derived from the uncertainty of when grades will be uploaded.

As students, we should not have to deal with the mental and bureaucratic turmoil created from the inability of instructors to submit our marks promptly. Such issues could easily be averted by requiring instructors to provide their final marks by a specified date. Besides, as instructors demand us to submit our assignments on time, is it not time that they get a taste of their own medicine?

 

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