N K Berden

“Abolition of the Replacement Assignments”

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N K Berden
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By placing my signature and other information in this petition, I confirm my interest in the abolition of the replacement assignments for missed project tutorials of the currently running mental health module 2017/2018, and my agreement with the following explained reasons for this request.

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The general turmoil about the demanded completion of the replacement assignments for missed project tutorials of the current mental health module have probably received your attention by now. This letter is aimed to describe the origins of this incidence in a logical and understandable manner, to explain the students’ perspective and our position towards the topic. Furthermore, this letter is reaching you on behalf of the students who signed the attached petition and therefore does not represent the opinion of excluded persons.

First of all it is necessary to make clear that this statement was not produced in anger or with the purpose to offend anyone or to damage the reputation of any individual or institution. Now, concerning the core matter, represented students do not agree with the demanded tasks that need to be accomplished in case of absence during the project tutorials. We are well aware of the fact, that presence in classes is necessary and provides the chance for improving the project, individual skills regarding scientific work, or gives the opportunity to communicate with the tutors in person. Everyone has to participate in the project work of his or her allocated group and to deliver parts and contribute to the project.

The assignment of replacement tasks in case of absence only means extra work for the student. Only because the person has been sick or did have to discharge an important appointment that could not have been rescheduled on any other near date, it does not mean that he or she will stop participating in the group work or invest time and effort into the project. The justification, that those assignments have the purpose to make sure, that we are all on an equal educational level is not comprehensible. Besides the fact that, again, people are still working on the projects despite illness, we are actually working together with other people on the project, thus, the tasks are split up and therefore, will turn out to be much smaller for the individual than demanded by the replacement assignments. Hence, the replacement is perceived not only as ‘extra’ work one has to accomplish besides the main project, but also makes the impression of being an imputation one might have skipped the tutorial on purpose.

We can imagine that it is not easy to handle students who neglect work and attendance, and who are purposely skipping tutorials. By now, everyone might have had personal experiences with this kind of behaviour in person during the group work of past modules. But also punishing those individuals who are conscientious and motivated and who just had bad luck and being infected by a cold or had to follow an exceptional important appointments can be considered as not fair. Moreover, one cannot check for equal educational levels by applying those assignments in cases of absence. This would mean, that all the other students who actually have been physically present have all accomplished the same tasks. In fact, as you also know, this is not the fact. There are people who regularly take part during tutorials, and there are people who do not, that are not even taken notice of. So just imagine you have been infected by the flu recently. Not only that your physical distress is decreasing your degree of comfort, but you also have to struggle with the additional mental dilemma of knowing that your body actually needs a rest and you would prefer to work at home, but then you have to do even more work, because then the extra replacement assignment is awaiting you. So, as could have been seen during the recent weeks, you are dragging yourself to work or to university, risking an even higher probability of worsening your infection, and are most probably spreading your germs on to other people.

Furthermore, there has been taken notice of the extremely decreased number of hours that need to be attended this module, and there is neither a need to complaint, nor is this a topic that is of central focus here. But this small number of hours does not save us from being sick and we cannot decide to be brought to a halt by bacteria and other germs outside those two hours of the project tutorials. We just want to raise awareness of the perceived unfair treatment of absence, the extra work these assignments mean, and that we are still contributing to our projects besides sickness. It is known that some people save up their allowed percentage of missed tutorials for the end of the module, but, besides the aforementioned reasons why the replacement assignment itself fails its purpose, demanding people during the end of the module to do tasks that have already been accomplished during the first couple of meetings does not serve the aim of maintaining an equal level of education.

A general unwillingness to work is not motivating the origination of this statement with attached request, but rather it is the unfairness and insufficiency accompanying the replacement assignments. We hope that this portrayal of the situation is comprehensible and represents the facts in a non-offending manner. If this might still be the case, then the author of this text would like to apologize for eventual harsh or cynic expressions, but the language barrier needs to be taken into account, since English is also not the mother tongue here. Nevertheless, we can understand that it is also not easy from your position to make sure we are all on the same level of progress. But this way is certainly no ultimate or beneficial solution. In case there is still need for further explanation, communication, or even ideation about alternative handling of this in the future, you can arrange a personal meeting with the sender of this e-mail.

On behalf of the people who are involved in this petition and who have signed this petition, thank you for your invested time and attention. We are looking forward to your reaction and/or statement.

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