As many may have noticed, a few weeks ago our small island was brought an inordinate amount of snow. As the blanket covered the country, we found ourselves floundering, unable to work out how to deal with such an unusual occurance.
Ever elusive grit was in high demand, and its absence on minor roads left swathes of people vowing to never venture out again lest they should die making the epic journey to the nearest Tesco. Roads became treacherous and cars became apparently useless, tracks froze and trains were delayed. Airports just didn’t work. Transport in Britain went to the dogs whilst students sat at home planning how on earth to get back to York. Our more prepared and experienced European neighbours must have been rolling their eyes at the furore that ensued.
So when the University of York asked its students to return on time, while the Met Office begged people to “avoid travel if possible”, with exams looming, and in the distinct absence of some sort of standardised protocol for such an event, many students became rather distressed. How the University could ask us to return for exams when, outside, the United Kingdom was facing a miniature crisis, seemed alien to some. The idea of braving the perilous motorways seemed
truthfully, the University had every right to tell us to get back on time
Hindsight being the beautiful thing that it is, it looks like we overreacted a little. The snow melted and although the journey up was difficult for some, we got back okay.
Truthfully, the University had every right to tell us to get back on time. Although maybe the Department of Mathematics statement that “getting to an exam counts as an ‘essential journey’“ was a little excessive, the University’s official position was not one that expected us to ‘get here or die trying’.
An establishment such as the University of York has a right and most importantly, a responsibility to try and get all of its student population back for the beginning of term, regardless of whether or not examinations are scheduled. Things need to get done. The University in this case simply published its expectations. The only thing they should be criticised for here is an absence of a standardised ‘mitigating circumstances’ policy, something uniform to break the confusion.
It must be acknowledged that some of us did have difficulty getting back this term. Those of us coming back from abroad would have encountered delays and cancellations. However, the University asking us to try our best to get back is not unreasonable; it is an issue of clarity. The University love to tell us what to do, they just need to do it with a little less ambiguity.