Students and staff attending Wednesday’s Trinity Education Project open forum, hosted by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), were at cross purposes from the very beginning.
On the one hand, you had students, who saw the event as an opportunity to rail against what they characterised as a fundamentally flawed project. The desired outcome? Immediate action to alleviate undue stress and to ensure fair assessment of students this year.
Those representing the College seemed to have an entirely different expectation. Armed with policy and the ideology behind the project, Vice-Provost Chris Morash and Senior Lecturer Kevin Mitchell were prepared to explain why changes had been made and listen to a few minor hiccups confined to a few courses – not to consider compensation or quick fixes to unburden students this term.
The more Morash and Mitchell – with the best of intentions – explained the theory of “assessment mapping” and the weighting of workload per credits, the more incensed students became. The lived experience, they countered, involves just as many exams and assignments in tighter timeframes.
College has been at odds with students before, of course, but it’s less than a year since Take Back Trinity shut the campus down, and Mitchell and Morash surely should not be taking this level of criticism lightly.
While they repeatedly suggested that issues were the fault of a few misbehaving schools, students insisted that the experience of chaos was universal, and that something would have to give – be it in the form of an extension of the summer exam or study period or something else.
If those in charge of the Trinity Education Project thought that they could allay the very real concerns of students with airy-fairy talk of cultural shifts and and policy changes, they completely underestimated the strain that students feel this project is placing on them.
Of course, it can’t be easy for them to see schools around College ignore or defy the core tenets of the project. But it should be up to College, not students, to ensure that these problems are addressed.