So, it’s been a while. I know. But this was something I felt needed to be discussed.
Last Thursday, North Texas was blanketed in freezing rain, resulting in inches of solid ice on pretty much everything in sight. It was deemed #Icepocalypse2013, and it went VIRAL. School, roads, stores, pretty much everything was closed because no one could get anywhere. UNT, my school, closed the entire campus (with the exception of dorms and a few cafeterias) starting Thursday at 1 (leading to my last class before finals being cut down to 30 minutes).
|View of the Library Mall/Admin Building on Friday AM.|
I went home to NRH Thursday night with an upper respiratory infection. All weekend, we waited to hear whether the school would be closed, whilst cramming for exams just in case. Finally, Sunday afternoon, the University announced we would be closed Monday, with our exams being rescheduled for later in the week. This would be when the complaining started. I don’t know how they handle snow/ice during Finals week in other states, but in Texas, most cities/counties aren’t prepared to deal with large amounts for an extended period of time. Up to Monday, the temperatures had continued to stay low, and there was a solid layer of ice on the ground EVERYWHERE. I don’t know if you’re aware, but this doesn’t normally happen in Texas. We don’t carry around snow chains for our tires.
|Students were playing hockey in the faculty parking lot on Sunday shortly before the closing announcement.|
Our finals were originally spread out amongst six days – starting Saturday the 7th, and then Monday-Friday of this week. With the University being closed all weekend through Monday, finals were being scheduled for odd times in the afternoon and evening. Then, Monday night, we were told the school would open at noon Tuesday, with the morning finals further rescheduled. More evenings, more 8 AMs, and now some 9PM starting times. So students dedicated all their studying to their later finals, while I was still at home in bed coughing my lungs out. For those of you who know me, I rarely get actually sick, but I was literally completely without a voice for 3 days.
At 10 AM on Tuesday, we were told the University would be closed for the rest of the day. Not the night before. Not early in the morning. Literally two hours before we were all supposed to be back up at school, as I was packing up to head back to campus. It wasn’t until Tuesday night at nearly 11PM that we were told school would be canceled today (Wednesday) until noon.
While they were making all these cancelations, it took hours for them to get the changed schedules up for exams, and when they finally did, most conflicted with each other, or were at such odd hours that it left commuter students stuck at campus from 8AM until 11PM after the last final.
This caused SO many problems for students. For me, it was just knowing when to finally go back up to campus, and spare a few hours coughing in my cramped dorm. In addition, one of my finals was rescheduled for 8AM Saturday morning. My parents are coming back up on Friday to help me pack up and move out of my dorm, and I would have to commute back up from home Saturday morning (in the dark) to attend my final. For other students, not only do they also face moving their things out of the dorm for break, but in addition they have thousands invested in travel plans that they can’t change, that were made when the schedules were announced months ago.
While our President and Provost have both sent us “assuring” emails, and spoken about communication with faculty being our best bet, the accommodations being made are meager at best. My only option to spare my 8 AM Saturday final is to go to an 8 AM Friday, where I was told I would have to sit on the floor because it would be too crowded with other students from my class facing the same problem.
Yesterday, someone decided to do something. A student began a petition on change.com to ask our new President to put all finals online, as some teachers had begun doing. My Journalism Major friends and I tweeted and shared it – of course, we knew it wouldn’t really cause a great change, but the more teachers that began to see we were having problems, the more likely they were to be accommodating.
In hours, over 7,000 students signed the petition. Now, I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but in a school of 36,000 students, more people signed that petition than turned in their teacher evaluations this semester. It was a true sign that these changes were frustrating LOTS of people, not just the few people speaking out on Twitter or Facebook.
Soon, other people caught on. Our shares, tweets, were seen by local news and both WFAA and FOX DFW did stories on the finals, with interviews of students sharing their personal concerns.
The reason I’m sharing this, though, isn’t to vent about the problems I’m having. It’s about the negative viewpoint this entire situation is putting on my generation, and the students at UNT.
As I’ve been reading other people’s perspectives on this story, I’m realizing that from the outside, people think it is just students whining because we don’t want to take our finals. They’re telling us not to complain because we have another few days to study, that this is life, we need to suck it up. Some are going as far to call us “entitled brats” because we can’t have finals exactly when we want them.
Most of us aren’t upset because we can’t take our finals. We’re upset because the University spent money cleaning out the stadium Monday for high school playoffs, but couldn’t clear off the streets and open up campus. We’re upset because our parking lots and sidewalks are ice, but the University is open and assuring us that the conditions are “acceptable” for finals.
|The Clark Hall parking lot (outside my dorm).|
|Yes. That is someone skiing in Denton.|
We’re upset because teachers are telling us we have to choose between finals when they’re double booked. We’re upset because some of us have to pay hundreds of dollars to change travel plans multiple times because the University can’t make up its mind. We’re upset because the conditions we’re in are unsafe. We’re upset because those of us with children or dependents have to schedule and reschedule caregivers. We’re upset because those of us who work have to keep changing our schedules, frustrating employers. We’re upset because our exams were condensed into three days and we’re expected to be able to study for all of them at the last minute and still pass.
But mostly, we’re upset because we spend THOUSANDS on tuition for these classes, and when we complain about how we’re being treated as students and customers, we get chastised and called entitled and whiney.
I completely understand the viewpoint of the people who have this opinion of us. From the outside, it does look like one giant mess around a bunch of loud mouthed students. However, if people actually took the time to understand the other side of the story before telling us to stop complaining and accept things how they are, some solutions might be reached.
After all, isn’t that how most major conflicts resolved?
A little something to think about, my friends.