News  McGill exam schedule in limbo

Provincial election may displace exams on December 8

A provincial election called Wednesday for December 8 has created a major problem with McGill’s exam schedule, leaving many students unsure of when they can leave for the winter break.

The provincial Elections Act requires student electors to be released from school on election day, which is the busiest day of the exam period, according to Jocelyne Younan, Chief Invigilator and Assistant Registrar.

“December 8 is one of our heaviest exam days with over 6,000 [people scheduled to sit exams],” wrote Younan in an email to The Daily on behalf of the Exams Office.

Classes were not interrupted for the federal election last month because the provincial Elections Act differs from the federal.

McGill’s exam schedule is created electronically by a computer that runs data through a complex set of algorithms in order to minimize conflicts for students and maximize efficiency for professors, invigilators, teaching assistants, and staff.

“This December, there were over 60,000 exam seats that needed to be scheduled over a 12-day period. On a typical day, only 20 or so students have a conflict,” she wrote.

Multiple students told The Daily that their professors were aware of the snap election snafu. Some professors spoke in lecture about meetings they attended or memos they received that exams would have to be rescheduled around the election.

There are over 10,000 out-of-province and international undergraduates at McGill, many of whom buy their plane tickets months in advance in order to save money on airfare, regardless of whether or not the final exam schedule has been posted.

“There’s another election? Well, I already bought my ticket,” said Katherine Radecki, U2 English Literature, who will be seeing family and friends in Europe over the winter break.

The interim final exam schedule has been available online since Thursday, although Younan said the fate of all December 8 examinations has yet to be resolved.

“The Office of the Provost has written to the Directeur Général des Elections asking that an exception be made and that exams remain on [December 8],” she explained. “We are waiting for his response, but are also exploring the option of moving the Monday exams to another day.”

McGill cancelled classes for the March 26, 2007 election, but the April 14, 2003 provincial election fell during the winter exam period. McGill ended up moving exams from that Monday to other days, with exams in most faculties being written one day before the election, on a Sunday.

On the exam schedule, all exams with blank dates were originally scheduled for December 8, but now float in limbo until McGill publishes corrections this week.

“We are not able to confirm the exams originally scheduled for [December 8],” read a message posted above the link to the final schedule on McGill’s web site. “We will only be able to finalize the date during the week of November 10.”