Dec 9th, 2021, 12:14 PM

Students Question AUP's Exam Schedule

By Sukhi Borse
Photo credit: Sukhi Borse
Administration and students disagree with this year's delayed final exam period

With final exams ending only four days before Christmas, students’ stress is on the rise as they worry about reaching home in time for spending the holidays with their families—especially amidst the constantly changing travel regulations following the rise of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Students are frantic in figuring out how to get to their home countries, and many are leaving before the final exam period. “There is only one flight a week from Paris to my home country,” said Costa Rica native, Sofia Quintero, “So it was either getting a flight out before exams or risk missing Christmas.” Quintero’s concerns have been echoed within the student body, as many students face the possibility of missing the holiday season with their loved ones.

Covid: New Omicron travel and self-isolation rules come into force @BBC News live 🔴 BBC



The mixed responses from the AUP community have also left some students feeling confused. President Schenck sent a school-wide email on December 7, 2021 which indicated that there would be no changes in the final exam schedule as France is keeping an eye on COVID-19 situation. Additionally, the email claims that all exam format decisions were in the hands of individual professors, and there will be no intervention on behalf of AUP administration for students who request exemptions.

This email was meet with mixed criticism from students as they understood the difficulty of creating the exam schedule but felt it ultimately did not best serve their needs. Many students have been left waiting in anticipation to hear about last minute changes in exam formats. “I still haven’t booked my flight because my professor has not decided if we are having the exam in-person or online yet,” said senior Giulia Giordo.  These last-minute changes can prove to be costly as some students have had to cancel flights; however, due to the ongoing pandemic, it seems many airlines and companies are flexible with flight changes. 

Some professors have been willing to work with students to accommodate for unexpected circumstances like flight changes or COVID-19 restrictions. “Luckily, all my professors are okay with me taking my exams online," said Quintero, “But I know that this is not the case for everyone.” These varying circumstances and lack of standard procedure has created an added weight to already stressed-out students. “This is the last thing anyone would want to deal with while studying for finals,” said Giordo.

Image credit: Sukhi Borse 

 

AUP's administration has explained the final exam schedule does not have much wiggle room for changes as it is set according to how the academic calendar for the semester pans out. This is planned by a special Academic Calendar Committee for the university. “Creating this calendar takes into account a lot of complicated issues like required course credit hours, compliance of French labor laws, and the observance of holidays,” said Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Christine Tomasek.

The final exam schedule happens to be pushed back late every few years because of how holidays fall on different days of the week. “In theory, the academic calendar would fit perfectly against the way the calendar falls… but the system isn’t perfect,” said Tomasek.  According to Tomasek, students are constantly dissatisfied with the final exam schedule regardless of how close it falls to the holidays. “Everyone is just ready to go home,” said Tomasek, “this isn’t new.”

This year, students remain frustrated as they don't see any solutions to the scheduling issues that benefit or aid them. Currently, the only option for students who are at risk of not being able to stay for their exams is to go directly to AUP Student Development.  Students can share their situation to  in hopes to advocate for their cause. Even then, administration has reiterated this is for the most extreme situations including family emergencies or incurring financial burden due to flight cancellations.

Image credit: Sukhi Borse 

 

While thought and extensive work goes into creating a viable academic calendar and final exam schedule, students still face the issue of uncertainty in their travel plans. Coupled with the stress of finals week, students do not benefit from the current situation. “I get that faculty and administration have their ways, but I shouldn’t have to question whether or not I’ll be home for Christmas,” said junior Gabi Mendes.

Understanding all the layers to this complex issue can be difficult, but one thing is clear, students expect more from AUP administration. Making a schedule that fits everyone's needs is an insurmountable task, but students don't feel AUP is listening to their concerns. “It just seems like they don’t really care,” said Mendes. AUP students must strike a balance between personal lives and university just as faculty and staff do, so why do we not get a say?