Thursday, February 29, 2024

Students express frustrations over exams being held one day before Feb. 13

February 11, 2024
<p>Light shines through Berkey Hall's 106B classroom on Jan. 17, 2024, a week and a half into the reopening of the building. </p>

Light shines through Berkey Hall's 106B classroom on Jan. 17, 2024, a week and a half into the reopening of the building.

Photo by Audrey Richardson | The State News

As the one-year mark of the Feb. 13 shooting on Michigan State University’s campus nears, many students are struggling to balance academic workload and healing. 

MSU spokesperson Mark Bullion said university guidelines encourage instructors to cancel classes on Feb. 13 and have no assignments or tests due on the 13 or 14.

"For most students, classes and exams will not be held on Feb. 13 and assignments will not be due," Bullion said. "While classes will resume on Feb. 14, faculty and academic staff are expected not to hold exams or have assignments be due on that date either."

However, Bullion said instructors can assign work and hold tests or classes on Feb. 12, the day before the anniversary of the campus shooting.

Due to this, many students have been assigned exams on Feb. 12 in certain classes.

Biosystems engineering freshman Kyla Zhao said that although taking an exam on the day before the one-year mark of the shooting hasn’t affected her as much, she understands why others in her class could be upset.

"Personally I don’t really mind it because I wasn’t personally affected by the shooting – since I’m a freshman and I wasn’t on campus when the tragic event happened," Zhao said. "But, putting myself in someone else’s perspective who was witnessing that event happen, I think it’s just really harmful and it’s not considerate of the people's emotions and students' feelings and thoughts during this entire week, because a school shooting isn’t something that is just (a) quick one and done."

Zhao said the event could have been addressed better as a whole by the university.

"There’s a really long-lasting impact, and there’s just so much history behind school shootings in general and just negligence of people’s emotion and people’s fears that I feel like should’ve been addressed a lot better," she said.

Journalism sophomore Ava Moschet said having an exam in a class isn’t something that particularly bothers her, but she recognizes why others could be personally affected.

"Generally speaking, situations like these have so many different feelings," Moschet said. "I mean, you could talk to somebody else today and get a completely different side. People are going to be offended in different ways, just depending on the person. So, having a test might not be the right decision for the general audience."

In one of Moschet's classes, students had an involved discussion surrounding a class exam scheduled for Feb. 12.

"From that discussion, I could tell that others were severely offended," Moschet said. "I mean, some people were really passionate about this."

While Zhao understands that the university can’t delay students’ learning, she said, it feels as though students’ mental health should take priority over academics.

"College is obviously so busy and we have so much to do, and obviously we can’t delay our learning and stuff like that," Zhao said. "But I also feel like it comes to a certain point when obviously there are more important things – such as students’ health and their mental well-being. That takes priority over our learning."

Zhao added it’s "unfair" of the university to ask students to take exams on a date close to the one-year mark.

"It’s unfair to all these people who are probably still mourning and grieving, especially on a day that is literally the anniversary or so close to it," she said. "I think it’s unfair to ask people 'hey, can you put aside your feelings and focus on this really stressful exam for just like 50 minutes or an hour?'"

Moschet said MSU putting guidelines in place is a good step in supporting students during this period. Ensuring that professors cannot overload students is important, she said.

She also believes an entire week off from classes would be "too much," as continuing academic routines can be important to many students.

"At a certain point, you have to get back into the routine of things and, you know, go to class as normal," Moschet said. "Sometimes, that helps somebody, you know? So, I would say that I agree with the (guidelines)."

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However, after hearing the experiences of upperclassmen who were present on campus last year during the shooting, Zhao believes MSU is not adequately supporting students.

"Talking to my sophomore friends and junior friends who were on campus when it happened, they described it in a way that was just so tragic and so horrible that I feel like the university (is) ignorant of what the students are feeling," Zhao said. "(They) need to do a lot better at (supporting) their students because I feel like there’s a lack of that currently on campus."

Due to the sheer number of people at MSU, Moschet said, the university can’t attend to everyone’s needs, so getting support from other sources is also important.

"People grieve differently," she said. "I mean, there are 50,000 plus students here, and everybody is going to have different opinions about this. So, what’s important is your flexibility and taking the time to properly grieve yourself while helping others that you are close with."

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