Students at Osgoode Hall Law School are back in class today, despite the ongoing strike at York University.
The decision to resume classes was made last week, after the executive committee of senate voted to approve the faculty’s remediation plan.
Dean Patrick Monahan released the details to students in an e-mail last Wednesday.
He explained that the university’s senate took several factors into consideration, “including law society requirements for certification of our program and the impact of a continued suspension of classes on the ability of our students to access the licensing process for lawyers both in Ontario and elsewhere.”
University spokesman Alex Bilyk confirmed part of the reasoning behind the decision was making sure students wouldn’t be prejudiced in the job market for articling and summer positions.
“I know that they’re aiming to make sure that the students don’t suffer anything from not being able to take their interviews when the interview period happens,” said Bilyk, “and also to meet the deadlines related to the challenge exams that occur, that are put out by the [National Committee on Accreditation].”
The university also noted only a few of the courses offered by the law school are taught by instructors who are members of CUPE Local 3903, which represents the nearly 3,400 teaching assistants, contract faculty, and graduate assistants currently on strike.
Given that the disruption has resulted in over three weeks of missed classes, the law school has made some changes to the course calendar to ensure the year is still completed by April 27, 2009.
The fall semester has been extended to Dec. 19, following which students will be on break for the holidays. The exam period will take place upon their return, from Jan. 5 to 16, 2009.
The winter term will commence on Jan. 19. In order to cover all the content in the shortened time frame, students will be forced to give up their reading break this year. Classes will continue straight through until the end of the term.
The faculty had the option of compressing the exam period was but chose to reject it.
“Given that so many of our courses are based on 100-per-cent final examinations or examinations worth a very significant portion of the final grade, the examination period is already a stressful time for students,” says the faculty’s plan.
Each term is losing one week of class time, and it will be up to individual instructors to determine how to best compensate for that.
While the plan does make up for most of the lost time, there is a concern over not having the fall term marks available for the February round of law firm interviews. Marks won’t be submitted until around Feb. 16 and interviews are scheduled to begin the next day.
The plan does say the law school will “work with firms to help ensure that our students are not prejudiced by the late receipt of grades.”
The dean has assured that students who choose not to cross the picket lines will still be afforded all of the protections and accommodations as outlined in the university senate’s disruption policy.