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It's one thing to cancel classes, but vacation?

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First a disclaimer. This blog is communications-focused in one way or another. But I reserve the right to depart from that on occasion. This is one of those occasions. You have been forewarned.

So the UNB profs go on strike and all we hear from students is concern about how this could jeopardize their year. Most of us could sympathize. We could understand that. So we felt genuinely relieved for the students when the strike ended.

But now their chorus has changed. Their concern over studies is so, so yesterday. Now, it has been replaced by a concern over losing their March break.

I’m sure this is not true of all students, and I recognize it’s unfair to place them all in the same box, but the fact is something like 2500 UNB students have signed a petition asking that classes not be allowed to interfere with their vacation.

For some time, employers have noticed that new graduates often arrive in their first job with an unrealistic sense of entitlement. They want it all, and now. Employers find that one of the first things they have to do is temper down these expectations and educate these recent grads into the ways of the real world.

Is this the result of attitudes that are influenced by a philosophy that everybody is a winner, and all you need to do to get a medal is show up? Or is it a failing by their professors who may be instilling the academic knowledge to succeed, but don’t bother so much in molding the attitude it takes to be a success once these young people leave the sheltered halls of academe.

A hint on that might be in the response by none other than Miriam Jones, UNB Faculty President, who on the Gleaner website, took issue with the Gleaner editorial because it told the students, in so many words, that they need to grow up.  Jones was pretty critical. She said the Gleaner comes off like a villain in a Charles Dickens novel.

But the Gleaner wasn’t refusing starving students more gruel. What the Gleaner said was this: “We say this is a good opportunity for students to get used to the unexpected hard knocks of real life. There is work to do, after three weeks off, and the last thing they need is a vacation. They need to work.” 

Jones response, in part was “The last time I looked, being self-directed and actively working toward goals were better "real-world" skills than bowing down to "hard knocks."

OK, but it should matter how lofty that goal is. Not having classes so they can have a vacation many would see as somewhat on the lower end of the loftiness scale. But the fact the faculty rep doesn’t seem to understand this maybe suggests an attitude that could be part of the problem.

Very telling is a quote attributed to UNB student union president Ben Whitney who said there is a concern for student mental health if March break is lost. Why? Because there would be 11 straight weeks of classes, and then, after a four day break, exams.

Look, no question classes up until Easter break and then exams after could be a grind, and stressful, but guess what students? In the real world that’s the way it works.

When you whine about having to surrender a week’s vacation because something more important has come up makes you look immature. I’m not complaining because most days I love what I do, but I couldn’t count the number of times I have cancelled or delayed vacation because real life intervened – a client facing a crisis, a pressing deadline, you know, real life.

So su&k it up students. Consider it an early initiation into the ways of the world. And if you feel the stress of missing some vacation will adversely affect your mental health, for goodness sakes don’t ever become an entrepreneur.

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