The real repercussions of correspondence course cuts
I read, with building disappointment, the opinion piece on correspondence courses at Mount Allison in the last edition of the Argosy. While the writer was correct in stating that the decision to slash correspondence courses “royally screws over” students, they were wrong in not making that the subject of the article. They did not give readers a proper understanding of how the loss of correspondence courses are affecting not just a “loud minority” of students, but many.
Mt. A’s decision to cut correspondence courses comes at an unfortunate time – mostly because there would never be a fortunate time to cut correspondence courses. The students that rely on them are varied and plentiful. There’s Victoria, a biochem major and rugby player, who last semester took a correspondence course in stats because it was the singular class that fit into her schedule of classes and labs, and she needed a full course load. Mark, an English student from Ontario, took a correspondence course while he was home over the summer because he was short credits for graduation this academic year but needed to work back home. There are fine arts students, like Emily, who would need correspondence courses if she wanted to take certain electives in concurrence with her multiple three-hour studio sessions during the week.
Students at Mt. A have chosen this university for a reason, whatever that reason may be. We are, as a school, proud of our education and our institution. The solution to correspondence course cuts is not to “take free online courses offered by institutions such as Harvard, MIT and UC Berkeley,” or programs on “pasta making” from “Craftsy.” That is an offensive salve to a legitimate issue that affects many – if not all – students. We are getting a formal education, and we have the right to receive that education from the institution of our choosing. Correspondence courses are a staple in universities, and Mt. A cutting them is harmful to its students and its reputation.
There is another pressing aspect of correspondence course cuts that is obvious and profoundly influenced by this decision, and I am not informed enough on the subject to comment. So, to finish, I’d like to quote a statement by Meg Sanderson, the president of the Association for the Chronically Ill and Disabled (ACID) at Mt. A:
“Too often, university administrators make decisions under the assumption that there is only one way to earn a university degree. On a campus as physically inaccessible as ours, we should have more correspondence courses, not less of them. With a renowned centre like the Meighen Centre, where students are earning their degree in very accessible, state-of-the-art manners, why are Mt. A administrators contradicting themselves by promoting the Meighen Centre all the while cutting forms of accessible education when we could be promoting these alternative manners to the ‘university degree.’ These cuts are just one more way of telling physically disabled students they are unwelcome here.”
To students, to faculty, to administration, and to the author of the previous article: rethink the economics that may accompany cutting correspondence courses, rethink the demographic you think it influences, and rethink what Mt. A represents.
And don’t forget: we noticed.