Bringing peace of mind to University of Guelph students serving in the Canadian Forces is the aim of a proposal that would offer these students academic accommodations.
The Serving Scholars initiative will be the first of its kind in Ontario and unique in its focus on reservists.
There are at least 30 U of G students who are members of the reserves, and most try to balance their studies alongside their military duties. But they can run into conflicts if exams are scheduled on weekends when they are in training, for example, or if papers come due while they are away on assignments.
The Serving Scholars proposal may allow these student-reservists to defer or write exams early if needed or renegotiate due dates for assignments and papers. As well, they may be able to register for courses early if they are busy during the summer with military duties.
Alex Fekri, a fifth-year accounting co-op student, has been in the reserves for four years. Although he’s learned to plan his schedule well ahead to account for his academic and military responsibilities, he sometimes runs into challenges.
We are called to emergency operations far from home with little notice… this will mean being able to have a bit of flexibility with deadlines
“As reservists we often work on weekends, typically in the field far from a desk, so meeting those deadlines can be difficult,” he says. “Other times, we are called to emergency operations far from home with little notice, such as during the recent spring flooding in the Ottawa area. This will mean being able to have a bit of flexibility with deadlines or exam dates.”
John Walsh, a classics professor in the School of Languages and Literatures who helped to spearhead the initiative, says few students in military service will need to use these proposed provisions, but having them in place would be helpful if issues arise.
“We want military members to feel assured that their two roles of students and soldiers will not come into conflict with one another,” says Walsh.