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Fire Away: Marks for effort, not for money

Thursday, October 20, 2011

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  • Grades should be a result of studying and working hard, not spending a few dollars

    Grades should be a result of studying and working hard, not spending a few dollars

Written by Stephanie Rennie

The signs of midterm season are all around us. The library has become uncomfortably packed, students are increasingly more disgruntled, and personal hygiene and sleep have gone right out the window.

Every October students are faced with several weeks of midterms to test the material that was supposed to be understood throughout the semester. A typical day is spent studying, cramming, writing a test, wiping your brain of that particular subject and repeat.

This season is excruciating, almost worse than exams. During the midterm sprawl, students are not only expected to perform well on each test, but also to continue attending classes, keep up with readings, and attempt to find room for sleep and food within the mix.

Although this time is stressful and tedious, there is always a silver lining in the feeling of utter relief after finally dropping your pencil and experiencing near carpel tunnel, but being free of stress and full of knowledge.

As an employee of thecannon.ca, an online community that facilitates textbook sales among students, this midterm season is always stressful for a different reason. While some students are cramming for midterms, other students are attempting to sell old midterms and exams online. Weeks before the midterm crunch, people are always trying to make an extra buck by attempting to sell their notes and midterms. This scenario is not only filled with legal and academic issues, but is morally troubling.

Based on Article 52 of the Collective Agreement between the University of Guelph and the University of Guelph Faculty Association, the sale of academic work created and produced by faculty is prohibited. This includes the sale of midterms, quizzes, exams, notes and lab manuals. Students continuously attempt to sell such items within classified ads even though it is prohibited by the University.

Selling academic work undermines the academic integrity of the University, while simultaneously ripping faculty off.

The sale of intellectual property places a monetary value on material that cannot and should not be sold for any price. The effort and research that any given professor puts into preparing a semester worth of lecture notes should not be sold for any set value. Since faculty members are responsible for acquiring, organizing, and releasing such information in the form of lectures and evaluations, it is their property and not the property of the students that have attended the class and taken the exam.

 I would argue that it is impossible to put a price on the amount of time and energy spent on research, preparation, and critical thinking that is generated into every lecture and each subsequent evaluation.

Selling intellectual property also creates moral issues. It is unfair for students with a bit of extra cash to purchase notes, midterms and finals and do well in the course even if they miss classes to recover after spending countless nights downtown.

Based on the competitive nature of some Undergraduate programs and the stiff competition to be admitted into Graduate programs and Professional schools, students are fighting for each and every percent that they can acquire. The sale of old course material greatly challenges equality within any classroom. There is no question that students purchasing last year’s midterm and notes have a greater chance of performing better and have more time to study for other course work as well.

Prohibiting the sale of intellectual property is vital in ensuring that the work of faculty is respected and that students are given an equal opportunity to succeed based on effort, not money. There needs to be a level playing field for all members of the student body so that hard work and studying is rewarded with better grades and increased knowledge, instead of who has the most amount of money to purchase course material.

Stephanie Rennie is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Fire Away publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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