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AIBU to take Christmas off re: university course rep?

(35 Posts)
PeteSwotatoes Sun 18-Dec-16 18:08:23

I'm a mature student and was one of three elected course reps. The nature of my degree is that the students are very high-achieving and perfectionist.

I have worked my arse off all semester in order to resolve queries. Not a day has gone by when I haven't spoken to a student via email, in person or on FB. A lot of the queries they ask are about the same things, even though I make an effort to send out mass emails about things that are relevant to everyone.

I even stood up (was practically weeing myself) at a big meeting with the Pro Vice Chancellor at the end of term and said that my cohort is a bit stressed/anxious and maybe the faculty could do more.

I sent out info on academic support, pastoral support, counselling etc.

And I've just had a message on Facebook from a girl saying our learning objectives are too vague and can I get more detailed ones from the faculty.

Now, to my late-twenties eyes, they are totally reasonable, but the younger generation seem to be spoon-fed more than I was at school, therefore they expect a lot more.

Frankly I just want Christmas to revise my own work and chill with my family, rather than effectively playing mum to 250 students. WIBU to take a few days off and not answer things?

ilovesooty Sun 18-Dec-16 18:11:46

Put a message on saying you will not deal with queries until next term. Even if these spoon-fed students had the right to impose on you there wouldn't be any progress during the holidays.

ladygracie Sun 18-Dec-16 18:11:48

I don't think you are being unreasonable at all. Could the student you mention not email a tutor direct or is that not how it works?
Can you set up an out of hours response so no one can complain?

VeryBitchyRestingFace Sun 18-Dec-16 18:12:32

WIBU to take a few days off and not answer things?

Just set up a holiday message on your email saying you've gone to Shagaluf for 3 weeks and are therefore uncontactable until start of term.

Peasy.

PeteSwotatoes Sun 18-Dec-16 18:13:54

Could the student you mention not email a tutor direct or is that not how it works?

I have suggested in the past that students contact tutors directly, but most seem totally unwilling to do so. A lot of the queries could be easily resolved with a quick email but I have ended up doing it.

To be honest, I won't be applying to be rep next year as I've found it knackering. I have a long-term mental health condition and had a bit of a blip at the end of term, and it's all just got a bit too much.

PeteSwotatoes Sun 18-Dec-16 18:14:35

I would set up an email message, but a lot of them like to contact me via Facebook so it's trickier.

Lules Sun 18-Dec-16 18:15:00

God no. I'm an academic. I have told my students that I will be on holiday over Christmas and not contactable. It will do them no harm to have to wait a few days for a response.

VeryBitchyRestingFace Sun 18-Dec-16 18:16:30

I would set up an email message, but a lot of them like to contact me via Facebook so it's trickier.

Then defriend them or amend your privacy settings so that they can't see your posts over the holiday season.

Be strong.

PeteSwotatoes Sun 18-Dec-16 18:16:36

Thanks Lules. I just wanted to check it was reasonable, given they've elected me to do this job and I do honestly want to provide a good service for everyone. It's just that I also want to do well in terms of my degree, and not self-combust from stress.

PeteSwotatoes Sun 18-Dec-16 18:17:52

Then defriend them or amend your privacy settings so that they can't see your posts over the holiday season.

Be strong.

That's a good idea. To be honest I think I just got miffed, because someone started a Facebook chat with me asking how I was, how my holidays were going, and then launched into a massive long course rep query as if catching me off-guard. Maybe I've just got the hump 'cause it's the end of term and I'm knackered.

bigkidsdidit Sun 18-Dec-16 18:19:18

It sounds like it wouldn't do the students any harm to not have you around for a few weeks! They need to learn how to resolve simple issues for themselves, really.

Minnie747 Sun 18-Dec-16 18:20:59

I am in a similar appointed role at my uni and I absolutely will not be responding to anything from students until the new year! Good luck smile

harderandharder2breathe Sun 18-Dec-16 18:22:05

Yadnbu

Is your role really to be a go between for every question your fellow students have? Surely they can go to the lecturer directly?

PeteSwotatoes Sun 18-Dec-16 18:23:14

Is your role really to be a go between for every question your fellow students have? Surely they can go to the lecturer directly?

I think I do need to clarify this because at the moment the line is blurry. Also some students treat me like I'm paid staff!

I got an email from an undergrad the other day that included the sentence "I await your immediate response"!!!

Lules Sun 18-Dec-16 18:24:18

Definitely don't combust with stress! In general, have you had any advice about 'managing expectations'? I don't really like the phrase but there's a good idea behind it. Don't answer emails/messages immediately - wait a day or so. Sometimes doing more for people isn't actually helpful in the long term

PeteSwotatoes Sun 18-Dec-16 18:25:12

That's very wise advice, thanks Lules. I think I may have given too much initially and now the expectation is that I'll solve everything really quickly. I'll have to slowly scale back.

FormerlyFrikadela01 Sun 18-Dec-16 18:25:29

I actually think they are massively taking advantage of you. When I was a course rep anything that I thought was an individual problem that an email to a tutor would resolve would be bounced back. They are adults now. Be strong and tell them to wait until after the holidays.

confuugled1 Sun 18-Dec-16 18:26:06

I'm guessing this isn't a paid position.

I would put a post up on Facebook to say that you are taking a break over Christmas but also remind them that you are also trying to do the course, your role is to liaise with the staff about <whatever you're supposed to do> but that increasingly other students are using you as an unpaid dogsbody to run around getting answers to questions that are beyond your remit and that the student should be getting answered themselves rather than expecting others to do the work and spoon feed them the answer...

Just out of interest how much effort do the other class reps put in?

PeteSwotatoes Sun 18-Dec-16 18:27:53

No, it's not paid at all. I give up my own time to go to student-staff meetings and answer queries. At the end I get a certificate.

The other course reps don't put in as much effort. Students have told me that I do a good job and they come to me because I sort stuff out (i.e. am a doormat?).

Now I'm reflecting on it, I have been a bit of a fool.

My psychiatrist told me that if this course rep thing gets too big I need to drop it completely.

OurBlanche Sun 18-Dec-16 18:32:10

I await your immediate response I had one of those, when I repped on my Masters course.

My immediate response was "Thank you for your enquiry, I will respond fully during the time I have allotted to being your Student Rep. Mean while I shall be attending lectures/reading papers/writing my own assignments"

I fully responded at 5am the following morning and asked him to give me additional information... within the next hour for speedy conclusion smile

PeteSwotatoes Sun 18-Dec-16 18:34:09

OurBlanche Did he reply? Mine never reply with a thank you...

StripedTulip Sun 18-Dec-16 18:34:47

And I've just had a message on Facebook from a girl saying our learning objectives are too vague and can I get more detailed ones from the faculty.

Ahh the joys of the snowflake generation. I feel your pain - we get assessed on this sort of feedback rubbish. THere's even talk of academic staff salaries being tied to "student satisfaction."

If the term has finished, put an Out of Office note on your email, and say quite explicitly that any emails in this period won't be read & the sender should re-send once terms starts again in 2017.

And in future, be firmer with your peers! They are grade grubbing, from the sounds of it.

Why oh why students focus their energies on all the framework around their studies, instead of just studying!

YANBU at all.

bloodyteenagers Sun 18-Dec-16 18:36:52

Defriend them all from FB and don't add them back.

Set up an automatic response from your email. Hi hope everyone enjoys their holidays. I know I will be enjoying the break from student life. Will be back 10th January or whatever.

Then when you go back automatic reponse Hi thanks for getting in touch. Will try to answer your query within 5 working days although could help get depending on exams and my own study. Any queries about LO's, clarification /other purse related stuff contact your tutor.

Then be ruthless. Anything already answered tell them see email entitled xxx it has all the information needed. Anything that should be From lecturer bounce them back to that person.

corythatwas Sun 18-Dec-16 18:38:49

University lecturer here, and I absolutely second setting up an automatic reply on your email to explain that you are unavailable between xth and yth, but will be back dealing with queries on the zth.

And for next semester to compose a stock phrase to explain that your role of student rep is to direct them to the appropriate support for their particular situation and that in this case that will be their personal academic tutor/module convenor/head of department/student services/delete as appropriate.

SingaSong12 Sun 18-Dec-16 18:38:53

Definitely Not unreasonable. I would think a rep would raise issues generally coming up with the students - so if all/a lot of students feel that the feedback from work submitted is too slow. I would expect each student to contact lecturers directly if they are having particular issues. I might think they could come to you if they felt they were being bullied or harassed by faculty though even then I think the welfare officer at student union would be better.

Could you tell the others that as you will meet or contact ?head of department once a month and if they would like you to be raise issues please leave you a message, and give a date of next contact with staff. Have a stock response for any queries the student needs to deal with themselves.

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