Students return to write spring exams

Instead of settling in and getting reacquainted with old friends, many returning students spent their Orientation Week studying for last year’s final exams. This is just another consequence of the fallout from last spring’s exam chaos, which has seen several Queen’s students scrambling to refresh their memories on the heels of the summer break.

Despite the efforts of numerous faculty offices to immediately reschedule the disrupted exams, many students were unable to write due to conflicts and had to accept fall test dates for their mandatory exams.

Like many of his peers, Craig Miller, ArtSci ’01, expressed concern regarding his ability to perform on a challenging exam so long after completing classes.

“I don’t see how they can expect you to take four months off and still retain the same knowledge you would have if you had just finished the course — it just doesn’t stay as fresh in your mind,” he explained.

Miller’s doubts were compounded by the fact that some of his classmates were able to accept rescheduled dates in the spring. He also voiced his disappointment regarding last spring’s events, a sentiment shared by many students.

“Some people have written the exam early and some had to write it now due to conflicts. If it’s going to be the same level of difficulty then I don’t see how they can expect us to perform as well. It’s unfortunate that someone had to go and [pull the alarm]… It’s caused a lot of headaches for so many people.”’

The numerous bodies responsible for the organization and implementation of examinations came together over the summer to discuss the issue. Director of Campus Security Louise Fish, presented the Senate Committee on Academic Procedures with numerous proposals designed to prevent a recurrence of last spring’s events. To date, an official change in security procedures has yet to be adopted.

“We have some recommendations for action that we have sent to the VP Academic and they went out on September 8. It is now up to them to look into changing safety procedures for exams,” she explained.

The suggestions proposed by Campus Security are numerous. Some of the recommendations to the VP academic were:

•A considerable increase in security presence during exams to both monitor and discourage suspicious behavior;

•A ‘no backpack’ rule: students will only be allowed to bring the most necessary materials into exam buildings and will have to check all extraneous material outside. This move is intended to reduce the number of ‘suspicious’ packages in the event of a bomb threat;

•Alternate sites for exams will be posted in advance so that a disruption will result, at most, in a momentary delay while students relocate to another area;

•Campus Security has also proposed closing the PEC during exams in order to reduce traffic and the possibility of disruptions in the area;

•The decentralization of exams to numerous, smaller areas so that a disruption to one exam area will not affect as many students.

Associate Registrar Betty Anne Gargaro informed The Journal that a discussion regarding exam procedures is well underway and that contact between relevant offices is ongoing. Gargaro also explained that this was due primarily to the complex nature of any amendment to exam policy and safety procedures. Gargaro indicated that a wide range of considerations had to be taken into account in order to best meet the needs of students and faculty and that a hasty solution could result in more harm than good.

“At the moment, I’m not able to comment on a change in exam policy… the VP Operations has prepared a series of recommendations and the Committee on Examinations will have a solution very soon,” she remarked.

Like students affected David Anderson, vice-principal (Operations and Finance) is anxious to see the matter cleared up.

“To date, such disruptive and threatening behavior has been rare at Queen’s, and I sincerely hope that last year’s events were isolated activities. However, the University is taking the events very seriously and is looking at a number of ways to ensure safety during examinations and to minimize the likelihood of a repeat event.”

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