College of Wooster seniors deserved better

Amelia Kemp

Contributing Writer

 

Independent Study (I.S.) is an integral part of the College of Wooster experience. Since our first year or even our campus tours, we have been told that we would be supported all the way through our I.S. experience. And yet, here we are.

The 2020-21 school year brought a litany of challenges, no doubt, but the College’s administration failed to come up with creative solutions for these challenges concerning the I.S. experience. Even at the best of times, I.S. is an incredibly difficult process. Wooster’s class of 2021 seniors have had to complete I.S. in what could be considered the worst of times, and what support have we gotten? Two campus-wide “rest days” and a one-week deadline extension (with all other classes and their assignments still ongoing) to replace the usual two-week spring break that precedes I.S. Monday. Is this really the best that admin could have done to give our seniors the support they need in the toughest part of their academic career at Wooster? I think not. At Wooster, we are pushed to think critically and come up with creative solutions to a variety of problems (both theoretical and concrete), so why is admin not held to these same standards? The COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity for admin to come up with creative ways to tangibly support seniors beyond the distinctly uncreative “rest day” solution. There were so many ways that administrators could have given seniors the time they needed to focus on creating a polished I.S. without falling behind in other classes. And yet, even when presented with a fully fleshed out and widely supported plan submitted by two peers and myself, administrators still failed to fully implement any piece of that plan, citing a lack of power to enforce changes to professors’ plans and policies. Seniors were left to fend for themselves, relying on the kindness of professors in order to not lose their footing in their classes while they struggled to finish their I.S. projects. In fact, even after seniors turned in I.S., admin expected us to turn in all of our symposium materials one week after that I.S. deadline. Senior students once again had to raise their voices to ask for support, this time in the form of an extension on the deadline for the materials.

Ultimately, the issues around this overall lack of student support have implications beyond just this pandemic and the class of 2021. The fact that the deans and other administrators lack the power to implement changes to professorial policy is a problem that COVID-19 brought to light, but one that needs to be addressed in the name of supporting students when we make our needs clear. We should not have had to beg for the kind assistance that should have been implemented ahead of time. We should not have had to rely on the kindness of our professors to get the leniency that we needed to complete this gigantic project well without failing our other classes. The class of 2021 deserved better, and the administration has some changes to make.