A rant about the delicate tenderness of the snowflake, and the granting of extensions.
Not the extraction-of-information-from-students-via-medieval-torture-devices kind of extenstions, however much we sometimes fantasise about such things, but the additional-time-to-complete-work-due-to-exceptional-circumstances kind.
I work in the UK where semesters are not so neatly bounded: teaching ends, then there are several weeks of official examination period, then a few more weeks of paperwork before the exam board at which marks are formally submitted to the central administration. Assignment dates for non-exam components are generally fixed for the first week of the examination period or before. This means that there is room in the system for 'exceptional circumstance' students to be granted an extra week or two on coursework without serious delay of the system, and an academic needs to mark the work once it is handed in. This is annoying because it messes up any batch marking system one has and means a module can be 'not quite done with' for weeks longer than necessary.
Supposedly, there is a robust system to ensure circumstances are exceptional. A single member of staff, chosen partly for their adherance to rules and unsympathetic reputation among students, is in charge of extensions, so students are treated equally. There are clear rules about the (very small number) of circumstances permitted and evidence required. Yet in the last few years, there are apparently more and more exceptional students.
I am supervising 12 final year projects, a year-long double-unit capstone module begun last May and due to be submitted at the end of April. The students have had a YEAR to do this work. Yet as of this evening SIX of those twelve have 'exceptional circumstance' extensions.
Marking final year projects is pretty time consuming, so I scheduled a couple of days in my diary in early May - but now half the work is coming in at different points between the 30th of April and the 28th of May, and my diary is kind of full of other things, like research committments, and marking 150 first year exam scripts. I can't leave them all until later, because the first lot of marks have to be handed to the office (for labarynthine quality control processes about which I may rant another time) in mid-May, so I now have to find a series of 2 hour+ slots through the month to mark all the 'exceptional' cases as they come in.
Do modern workplaces really allow this much leeway to their employees? If not, how does 'supporting' students in this way help to prepare them for the "realities and rigours of employment" as the faculty brochure promises? I know the university doesn't; medically mandated sick leave, giving birth and the death of parents are greeted with verbal sympathy but the onus remains on the person to sort out coverage of their duties or suffer the consequences (I guess if you actually die someone else would do it?). Politicians tell us we are archaic and not at all business like, so maybe this is one of the features we will acquire one day.
Apologies for the horrible graphic...though I guess it's in keeping with the proud CM tradition...