A recent student-initiated petition about the stressful nature of FYP’s schedule has sparked a contentious debate on the King’s campus.
Following the winter break, FYP students were required to submit an essay just four days after their return to school. Immediately, they were assigned another, due 10 days later.
Many students found the timing to be unreasonable. Lectures relating to certain essay topics were to be given three days prior to the paper’s due date. 112 people signed a petition, asking for a four-day extension. Their appeal was declined.
The student protesters love and value their education. They enjoy and appreciate the program, but feel FYP’s stringent deadlines hinder their ability to thrive, while imposing unnecessary emotional stress. They want to challenge themselves and succeed in a curriculum that’s unusually demanding. In their view, more flexible deadlines would not impact the program’s curriculum or compromise their goals of academic success.
The commitment to do good work is laudable. Still, in considering the request for an extension, it’s crucial to reflect upon our time at King’s during the last 5 months.
The program has been considerably more lenient to us than students in years past. We have had the chance to resubmit our first essay, a practice unheard of in upper years. To alleviate the stress we were collectively feeling about our approaching oral exam, we were granted a week’s extension on our research paper. We had a month over the holidays to write one of our other papers.
Guidance and mentorship are readily available to us. Should we choose to submit after the deadline, we are only penalized one third of a grade. There’s also the simple option of exploring essay topics lectured on earlier in the section.
Gifted in the art of procrastination, I would love extra time for my essay pursuits as much as the next person. (There’s a certain satisfaction in knowing my cactus will always be perfectly hydrated when the alternative activity is developing a thesis).
However, our academic schedule at King’s has already been more forgiving than we could have anticipated. We should be grateful for the compassion that the administration has shown us throughout the tribulations of Foundation Year Programme, rather than stipulate another exception.
The program remains rigorous, yes, but also abundantly rewarding. By meeting what we once believed to be impossible deadlines, we have awakened new capabilities. The program’s relentless stretching of our personal limits has revealed our potential. Is that not the goal of education?
This year demands much, but promises a greater return. If this view is obscured for you, as it sometimes is for me in the daze of late-night essay endeavours, I believe it will clear retrospectively. The absurdity of some of FYP’s deadlines are fundamental to its experience, fuelling the jokes made by professors about the program’s special place in Inferno.
That said, a serious question remains: If half a class rallies to change the structure of our academic program, when do we acknowledge that its collective stress and anxiety might not be a joking matter?