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Dawson College students vote on potential protest over in-person exams

Dawson College. Global News

Dawson College students are voting Tuesday and Wednesday over whether to hold a protest this week or not.

The vote is one more step in a battle between the Montreal college and its students over in-person exams during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Dawson College’s student union, if students vote for a ‘strike’ or protest, they won’t show up to take their exams, which are scheduled for May 27.

Meanwhile, Dawson College filed an injunction Tuesday morning in order to prevent students from “boycotting” in-person exams.

Read more: Dawson College students seek injunction to stop in-person exams because of COVID-19

“The goal of our injunction is to prevent a situation where boycotting students could potentially physically block access to the building during exam days,” said Dawson College spokesperson Christina Parsons on behalf of Dawson college.

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The student union has been asking the college to hold final exams online because many students are afraid of catching the coronavirus and bringing it to their families.

The union argues the college has not made plans to accommodate immunocompromised students or students who are self-isolating because they may have been exposed to the virus.

“We are generally very disappointed at how the situation has escalated. The college has done nothing to try to find a solution,” said Kevin Contant-Holowatyj, the student union’s chairperson.

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COVID-19: Montreal CEGEP students fight for at-home exams – May 3, 2021

The college says they have a rigorous health and safety plan that has been approved by public health.

In the injunction filing, according to a copy obtained by Global News, the college alleges it’s better to hold final exams in person because they’ve seen cheating go up three times compared to the last two years.

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Contant-Holowatyj questions the claim and the numbers behind it.

“They said they conducted a survey, they did some kind of experiment on cheating months ago and never disclosed the information,” said Contant-Holowatyj.

“I think in general the college has been super short-sighted in this matter. They have not sufficient effort to try to limit cheating.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Some Montreal CEGEP students fighting for at-home exams

Another point of contention is the college’s position that if exams don’t take place as scheduled, they will likely have to be pushed to August — disrupting many students’ plans to get a summer job, for example.

The student union believes the college is engaging in pressure tactics, saying the college sent an email after the union’s general assembly to all students to invite them not to vote for the so-called strike.

“They want us to be scared,” said Contant-Holowatyj. “There’s been a lot of fear tactics this whole time, in this whole process for sure. It’s very disheartening.”

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Parsons responded that the college would never seek to threaten students.

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“Our goal is to make sure they understand the impact of further delaying final exams,” Parsons wrote. “If they win their injunction, practical exams that can only take place in-person will need to be deferred to August.  For those exams that need to be converted to online exams, teachers will have to prepare new exams and convert them to an online format.”

On Thursday, the Dawson Student Union filed a request for injunction aiming to stop in-person exams from happening.

Polls close on Wednesday and the results will be announced at noon.

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