Departments offer extensions in response to College closure

Students express concern at lack of access to library

Multiple departments have announced the extension of coursework deadlines in response to the closure of College in a move to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Final year dissertations have received particular attention from departments, with some departments opting to extend deadlines for students in lower year groups. A significant amount of coursework is now to be submitted electronically, with schools moving away from paper submission.

Ancient history and archaeology (AHA), ancient and medieval history and culture (AMHC) and Classics students from first to fourth year have received an extension on all coursework, including dissertations, until April 9, the second last day of teaching during Hilary Term.

In an email to AHA, AMHC and Classics students, head of department Professor Anna Chahoud said that students “may of course submit [their] piece(s) of coursework at different times and ahead of the deadline”.

Speaking to Trinity News, AHMC Senior Sophister class representative Heather Croghan said: “These are completely unprecedented times and my faculty and specifically my course co-ordinator have been amazing in keeping our course including, informed and reassured as this unfolds. They are keeping lines of communication clear and open.”

“As final year students there is an added element of stress to this situation, and our department has given us the necessary dissertation and assignment extensions in response to the closures,” Croghan added.

History students in both the Fresher and Sophister years have received an extension until 4pm on April 9. For Senior Sophister dissertations, this marks an almost three-week extension from the original deadline of March 18. 

“As previously stated, all essays (including the dissertations) should be submitted electronically as usual,” the email told history students.

College shut at 6pm on Thursday following an announcement from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that all schools, colleges, and childcare facilities were to close in response to the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland until March 29. In an email circulated to staff and students on Thursday evening shortly before the closure, Provost Patrick Prendergast said that it “would be wise to allow for the possibility of a longer closure”.

The School of Religion and the School of English have each decided to extend the deadline for dissertations and keep in place existing deadlines for other pieces of coursework.

Senior Sophister religion students have been offered a two-week extension for dissertations, bringing the deadline to April 8, with submission to be made electronically.

Professor Linda Hogan advised religion students to “please be assured that all of the academic and administrative staff are on hand to assist you in these difficult times”.

Speaking to Trinity News, a Senior Sophister religion student said: “I’m relieved that extensions have been granted to students but I’m also aware that for some schools the extension is not equal to the amount of time that students have between the close of college and the original deadline.”

“This still leaves students who rely on the library resources at a disadvantage”, the religion student continued.

Trinity’s library buildings closed at 6pm on Thursday and are to remain closed until Sunday, March 29 inclusive. Students can avail of electronic resources through the Library’s online platforms, but physical material located in the library is to be unavailable until it reopens. The Library confirmed that due dates are to be extended on any books that were due to be returned within the closure period.

Speaking to Trinity News, a Senior Sophister English student expressed similar concern relating to access to library materials. “Any extension is welcomed as a form of alleviating pressure but in the present case, the lack of clarity around access to appropriate learning resources could still compromise the quality of work we produce and that is something most Sophisters are worried about,” the English student said. 

“That saying, I also remain sympathetic to staff who are under immense pressure to come up with a suitable arrangement, in which case listening to students in their department is very important,” they continued.

The deadline for dissertations for Senior Sophister English students has been extended by one week, moving the deadline to 12pm on March 27. The deadline remains within the window of College’s closure, with dissertations to now be submitted online through Blackboard rather than as a hard copy.

In an email to students on Friday afternoon, Brendan O’Connell, director of undergraduate teaching and learning in the School of English, said that “most students will already have been at an advanced stage in relation to their research, and a week’s extension should be sufficient in most cases”, adding that students with a “legitimate reason” to prevent them from meeting the revised deadline could apply individually for a further extension.

“We are keen to take steps to minimise student anxiety, but also want to ensure that coursework can be submitted in a timely fashion in order to facilitate the careful marking required for these important pieces of work,” O’Connell noted. “We hope that these arrangements will alleviate anxiety for most students; please understand that these circumstances are without precedent, and we are doing what we can to ensure the smooth delivery of teaching and assessment.”

Maths students have received a 10-day extension on their final year projects. The projects, which were originally due on March 20, are to be accepted until 12pm on March 30.

In an email, Senior Sophister Maths students were told that alternative arrangements may also be made for poster presentations of the projects that are currently scheduled for April 9.

History of art and architecture students received an email on Friday morning to confirm that all deadlines would “remain as previously advised”. Dissertations for final year students in the school are due on April 20, with other coursework for Senior Sophistor history of art and architecture students including a 3,000 word project due on March 24 and a 3,500 word project on April 1.

Head of department Dr Rachel Moss told history of art and architecture students they could include a statement at the start of their dissertation to list sources they were unable to consult due to the college closure and how these might have added to their study, which would be “taken into account” for grading the dissertation.

Speaking to Trinity News, a Senior Sophister art history student said that students in her class have “expressed concern” that “despite the departmental advice”, they would not be able to “finish chapters if libraries don’t reopen”. 

“There’s critical resources in the library that can’t be replaced with online substitutes,” the student continued. “Yesterday we were also told that special provisions wouldn’t be made for taking home non-LEN books or books from the Art Hist Reading Room before libraries closed.”

Second year business students taking the module Principles of Marketing have been granted a two week extension on a group project, bringing the new submission date to 12pm on April 3. In a notice to students on Wednesday evening, before the announcement of the campus shutdown, Assistant Professor Sarah Browne explained: “I believe this is more than enough time to make allowances for any disruption caused to any groups.”

In his speech from Washington DC on Thursday morning, Varadkar said that that “where possible” teaching should be continued online while schools and colleges are shut.

Discussing the coronavirus, Varadkar stated: “There will be many more cases. More people will get sick and we must face the tragic reality that some people will die.” He added: “We have a duty as a society to protect ourselves and above all to protect others.”

The first case of coronavirus within Trinity was confirmed on March 5 and the person has since recovered. The second case, a Health Sciences student, was confirmed on Wednesday night, leading College to withdraw students from clinical placements.

During Trinity’s closure, access to the campus is permitted only to limited groups, including residents, staff, and postgraduate research students with written permission from their supervisors.

In addition to the Library, sports facilities, catering outlets other than The Buttery, and attractions such as the Book of Kells exhibition and the Science Gallery have been shut. The College Health Centre is predominantly carrying out consultations over telephone, and Academic Registry has closed to walk-ins.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.