Difficulties Imagine-ing

Posted by: | September 5, 2008 | 17 Comments

As you all know, each year UBC relies on student volunteers to help run Imagine by signing up to be MUG/Squad leaders and managers. So it would seem, with hundreds of volunteers, that the university would be better able to accommodate these student volunteers that it relies so much on- perhaps by doing things like canceling labs for all students in 2nd year and up, or by letting the professors know that they shouldn’t deliver actual lectures on the first day of school. And for the most part, this hasn’t been a problem that I’ve really encountered until this year.

Some of this general disgruntledness comes from the fact that I’m a science student (I think). Most Arts classes I’ve taken are quite good about not doing anything more than a brief introduction in the first class. And to be fair, most of the time, UBC Science does a pretty good job of ensuring that there are no lab check-ins on the first week of school- which is why I was suprised to find out that my lab section did, in fact, have a check-in session on Tuesday- and that it was quite important to attend, as it involved things like finding lab partners and checking equipment and things.

I was then further surprised (it was a fairly suprising day, but not in the wonderful way) to learn that my biochemistry 302 class (whose size I don’t quite know, but it must be large, seeing as it’s in Wood 2) actually received a 1.5 hour lecture on the very first day. It struck me as being fairly inconsiderate of students who were volunteering on behalf of the university, and who were being thanked by the administration for helping out with Imagine. After all, the first day of orientations could not run without the help of students. Covering actual information during the first class on Imagine day only discourages students from participating in orientations, as it creates inconveniences for when you come to the next class and spend another 1.5 hours being confused about what the prof is saying because you weren’t there last time. Perhaps it’s my biassed sampling, but students I know/have asked about the matter have all talked about not wanting to fall behind during the very first day of school. Of course, it’s only one class, and it’s not all that hard to catch up, but creating barriers to involvement certainly isn’t helpful in recruiting students to participate in things like Imagine.

So what is my proposed solution? I would advocate that the University should cancel classes on the first day for all students in 2nd year and up (at least in undergraduate programs). I envision this dealing with several issues at once. First of all, it would mean that Imagine volunteers wouldn’t have to worry about missing any important information presented in the first class. Secondly, I see it actually easing the work of Imagine coordinators. I know there’s always a big fuss about trying to find classrooms and spaces in which to run the student success workshops, and there’s sometimes a bit of a problem when it comes to showing first years their class locations. Not to mention trying to get through crowds of students on campus without losing doe-eyed (or not) some of your MUG group. And for those of you who couldn’t care less- you get an extra day of vacation! So while I understand that some professors are worried about getting through all of the curriculum, and the tight schedules, and so on, I don’t think that one day makes all that big of a difference- so I think that everyone (or at least all students) wins.


17 Comments so far

  1. Alfie on September 5, 2008 8:24 am

    One day may make the difference in the school year to the rather rigid schedule of the school year. In fact, the university, like high school, has a set number of “instructional hours” they have to fulfill in order to be qualified a school year. A day missing must be made up somewhere else (wink, wink, one day later before you can finish all the crazy final exam and pack for home) So it’s a balancing act, definitely an interesting proposal though, Maria.


  2. Alfie on September 5, 2008 8:24 am

    By the way, when did “annoymous” disappear in this blog…

  3. Patrick Meehan on September 5, 2008 8:46 am

    This is a pretty valid issue to talk about.

    With normal class missing things, you can approach your prof in advance and work out something with them. Its mighty hard to do that for the first week of school, and you have no way of knowing whats going to happen in your class.

    Personally, I was annoyed on Tuesday that the only class of the day that I received a full 2 hour lecture was also my LAST class of the day, but that’s pretty nebulous.

    Congrats to the insider for posting something of real interest to students, and not unsourced sketchy announcements of alleged border holdups. I’m still waiting on a legitimate source for that article by the way…

    I for one welcome the new lack of anonymity.

  4. Patrick Meehan on September 5, 2008 8:51 am

    A-ha, that’ll teach me not to forget to read the Ubyssey this week, apparently its in the Ubyssey.

    Thats still not exactly what I’d call fool proof, but its better.

    Scratch what I said about the unsourced, though I still think its frivolous.

  5. ainge lotusland on September 5, 2008 10:23 am

    meh, missing a class isn’t the end of the world. profs should give imagine volunteers a break, but i can’t see changing the school schedule being all that practical. you suggest that 1st day attendance for “students 2nd year and up” should be cancelled – do you mean courses coded 200+, or that attendance for people with certain year statuses would not be mandatory?

    there are 1st years and transfer students out there registering in upper level courses. there are seniors registering in 1st year courses. some people have the same “year level” recorded on the ubc system for years on end.

  6. Maria_Jogova on September 5, 2008 4:19 pm

    What I’m saying is that the very first day of school should be for people who are taking part in Imagine- either as volunteers, or else as first years who are getting the orientation- I don’t think it actually poses any inconvenience for people who have been first years for a multiple years.

  7. Blake Frederick on September 5, 2008 4:26 pm

    At the very least, this is probably a proposal that should at least be considered. I may raise it at the next Senate meeting and have the appropriate committee look into it.

  8. Alex Lougheed on September 5, 2008 6:07 pm

    I believe there’s already such a movement within the admin (that is, to cancel 200+ classes on the first day).

    It’s probably a good idea, provided it doesn’t push classes later.

  9. Sunshine on September 6, 2008 2:08 am

    Alex: agreed. I spoke briefly with Jamie Tooze (one of the International Student Advisors for Sauder), who informs me that the Sauder School of Business cancelled *all* of their classes this year for this very reason, they want to make sure that all of their students can fully participate in Imagine Day. He did mention that people might still have to go to their elective classes, which was regrettable. Jamie also said that that a proposal will soon be presented to Senate to cancel all classes for all faculties on Imagine Day. I think it’s great that Sauder already tried this out; I’m sure that evidence of success in one faculty it will make it that much easier to convince all the other faculties to do the same thing. It’ll be interesting to see what (if any) effect it has on professors’ delivery of course material, except for perhaps going at a slightly faster pace in the first few weeks.

    As a past Squad Leader I do support this idea. I am not convinced, however, that it would make it that much easier to attract top talent to UBC Orientations. I’ll even go on a limb and say that the current system we have in place ensures that only somewhat dedicated people apply to be MUG leaders, as they know they will have to skip classes. I say somewhat dedicated, because I’ve seen my share of flakes and resume-padders within the ranks of Orientations leaders, and this irks me to no end. On the other hand, not having to worry about skipping one’s first class would likely make the lives of dedicated leaders a little bit easier during firstweek, and that’s why I support this idea, even if it were to lengthen the school year by a day or two…

    – Sonja

  10. Tim Louman-Gardiner on September 6, 2008 9:38 am


    There’s as onus on the individual leaders to go talk to their professors themselves. As far as I know labs are cancelled, but classes are not.

    Classes should not be cancelled; these students who volunteer for Imagine are “student leaders.” I like to think that these leaders are capable of fending for themselves.

    And more importantly, that’s the value of Imagine. It puts students in a leadership role, often for the first time. And part of that is the uncomfortable situation of talking to a prof before the school year, asserting yourself, and defending the fact that you won’t be at the first class.

    My big issue with “kids these days” is that they aren’t good at fending for themselves, and they often feel like it’s the University’s job to help them. It’s not. University is a time to learn to fend for yourself and solve your own problems. And, for those in this type of leadership role, it’s a great way to learn.

    Plus, it’s the first day of class. Seriously – who really misses that?

  11. Fire Hydrant on September 6, 2008 7:44 pm

    Why are UBC’s undergrad orientations held on a school day?

  12. Maria_Jogova on September 6, 2008 8:14 pm

    Tim: So one of the problems is that some of the labs weren’t canceled. While curriculum is arguably fairly easy to catch up on, lab check-ins aren’t quite as easy to go to when they’re held in the middle of a workshop, for instance. I think the issue isn’t so much “can students fend for themselves”, as profs don’t really care if you’re there or not- it’s the issue of needing student leaders, thanking them, and at the same time putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to academics. Yes, people need to make sacrifices, etc.- but this is a case where the university actually needs student volunteers. If no one was willing to make the sacrifice, there would be no Imagine.

  13. Yonnnnnnnnaaaayyyyy!!!!! on September 7, 2008 4:41 am

    Why not just move Imagine day, and all other orientation activities, to the previous week? At sane schools, orientation week occurs before classes start so that students can actually, you know, enjoy themselves??

    Crazy, I know.

  14. Alfie on September 7, 2008 7:36 am


    Your argument is great and the proposal is definitely interesting, but one question is still elusive to me.

    “Putting student leader at a disadvantage”

    Isn’t what it is about when you are trying to get involved at UBC?

    a)AMS council goes from 6-11pm and the buses basicly runs every half an hour by the time the meeting ends for communters

    b)Meetings with the UBC Execs or various committee meetings (be it Senate, UBC, AMS, or BoG), most involve missing classes or you just can’t even go

    c)Getting paid at minimum wage working for the AMS

    d)For some poor souls who are political hacks(e.g. poli sci students), they have to stretch out their degrees for an extra two or three more years to be the exec or AVPs, and etc.

    Are these huge prices?

    Considering that, perhaps bring the whole Imagine Orientation to the week before the school actually starts or the current model isn’t such a big sacrifice at all. Most profs are fairly flexible with the schedules and willing to accomodate, especially for the upper year labs, and who else really is running a lab or tutorial on the first day of school or even the first week?

  15. rmb1987 on September 8, 2008 12:29 am

    I’m completely with Fire Hydrant. They shouldn’t cancel a day of school because of first years, Imagine and orientations should just be the Friday before school starts. One day makes a big difference in some classes. Moreover, first-years could also be given free reign of the bookstore and get up to 1/4 of the student body out of there for the rest of September.

  16. Patrick Meehan on September 8, 2008 8:20 am

    Hey alfie, on at least two of your points, your a little mis-informed.

    While technically true, council can run long, it by code has to end at 10 unless there is a pressing move to extend it, not 11 as you said.

    Also, if for whatever reason, the meeting DOES go late, any student or board member can be reimbursed for cab fair home should they not be able to take public transit.

    I’d be willing to bet no one has used that clause in, well, ever, but its there.

    Also, AMS businesses dont pay minimum wage, they pay significantly more than that if I recall correctly.

    Also, Im a little confused on how that relates to imagine day. The university is in a bit of a sticky position if they are actively seeking out students to spend the day as Mug leaders and at the same time allowing them to be penalized through missing class time.

    I think to a large extent, students should just suck it up and deal with it, but there is something to be said for a bit of hypocrisy on the Uni’s part.

    Oh, and not to nitpick, but your bit about poli-sci students being the poor souls delaying their degree’s for student politics, I’m pretty sure three of the exec’s are math students…

    And trust me, the things Ive learned and skills I’ve developed through my years on student governance at various levels has more than made up for extending my degree.

  17. Philip on October 1, 2008 3:40 am

    I agree with Tim L-G.. I’m not convinced that it is necessary to cancel all classes on the first day to run Imagine. I don’t think Imagine has ever had trouble recruiting volunteers. Furthermore, I’ve missed my first day of classes and it wasn’t a big deal.
    I think most upper years would enjoy one more day of holidays and the campus would seem strangely deserted for incoming first years.

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