Getting by with a little help from your pens

By in Opinions

Students are determined to succeed in their academic pursuits in the classroom. But when getting to and being in the classroom becomes a struggle for members of our student body, how do we ensure that all students have an equal opportunity for success?

To be frank, getting to class is a struggle for almost every student. It’s challenging to get out of bed after you stayed up until three in the morning, pouring over  your textbook, or to sit through class after scrambling to the bus stop and arriving late for a 50-minute lecture with your monotone professor. Getting to class can be tough, and being in the right mindset for notetaking can be even tougher.

Although the reality described above impacts many students, there are added challenges for students with varying physical and mental abilities.

For students registered with Disability Services for Students at the University of Saskatchewan, there are programs in place to help them achieve the same academic success as their peers.

One of these services is DSS Notetaking. The service is straightforward: you take notes during class, and then you post them online to Blackboard. Those utilizing notetaking services will get a notification when the notes have been posted. The system leaves students anonymous, on both ends of the notetaking exchange, so that neither student has to share their identity if they do not want to.

Notetaking is a great way to keep yourself accountable in class.

The process is straightforward, but it is often stressful for the student registered with DSS. It’s not uncommon for the process to take weeks of waiting for a student to sign up to be a DSS notetaker. Sometimes, no one in the class signs up to be a notetaker at all.

There are also some common misunderstandings between students registered with DSS and students eligible to be notetakers. It is important to understand that students registered with DSS did not choose to have their disability.

Furthermore, registering with DSS is not a selfish ploy for students to “steal notes” from their peers — students must have a diagnosed disability or injury to register with DSS.

Finally, if you are a student who does not want to share your notes, because you take excellent notes that you would prefer not to share with people who are “too lazy” to take notes — I have heard this in some of my classrooms — you should reconsider your thoughts on DSS.

While you are taking notes, one of your peers may be experiencing a massive cramp in their hand, causing them overwhelming pain. While you are taking notes, one of your peers may be sitting on a washroom floor gasping for air because they are mid-panic attack. While you are taking notes, one of your peers may be unable to hear the professor’s voice over the deafening click of the person tapping their toe beside them.

Although there are barriers for some students pursuing education on campus, you can help by signing up to be a DSS notetaker. You simply email dssnotetaking@usask.ca with your class name, class number and section number.

At the end of the semester, and upon the completion of your notetaking, DSS will add the experience to your Co-Curricular Record. The CCR is a formal recognition of the university-approved activities you have partaken in at the U of S. When applying to other programs, a CCR can be submitted, and the experience of notetaking is an excellent addition to your future applications.

Consider becoming a notetaker, because not all students face the same challenges.

Kirsten Samson

Photo: Michaela DeMong

  • Maddy

    Every time I see the announcement for this article on PAWS, I keep misreading it as “Getting by with a little help from your penis”.
    Also, good article!

  • Liz Nwagbara

    And what of those of us to choose to create google drive docs of our notes and mass email the class with the link, is it really still necessary to sign up for DSS? The student is still getting the notes, and the whole class has access to uploading and editing (if you set sharing preferences to “can edit” which I do). So why is it such a big deal for it to remain anonymous for the person sharing the notes? I don’t know who is registered with DSS and it doesn’t matter because they have the notes anyway

    • Emily Klatt

      Yes, it’s still necessary for DSS. Not all classes allow computers and typed notes in class, nor does every class have someone who is willing to distribute their notes like that.

    • Liz Nwagbara

      Reread what I’ve written please. I’m talking about a specific context which you have failed to mention in your reply.

    • Emily Klatt

      Oh my gosh. I misread your comment. You meant if you, as a individual, chose to email the entire class and if you would have to sign up to be a note taker. Not if people needing notes would need to sign up with DSS. My apologies!

    • Liz Nwagbara

      Aside from your ignorance of my comment, and remaining within the context of my original comment, all the issues you have mentioned have already been solved. So within the context of my argument, is DSS sign-up still necessary in those situations?