Often times I find myself defending Western University. This time they acted recklessly.
A lot of people like to paint the university as this corporate giant, polluting the metaphorical river of aspirations and dreams while students can only yearn for an Erin Brokovitch-type to champion justice. Indeed, Western often prioritizes the bottom line and other business targets. I can't usually fault them for that — they are a semi-private organization after all.
Removing content from OWL seems to be a business decision, hoping to comply with new copyright standards. While they certainly can do this, I believe they have an onus to students when making choices that have a large impact on their educational experience. Many students rely on their past course archives for old readings, lecture notes and even their own work.
By snatching all that away, Western has compromised many of their students' abilities. How can a student complete long term projects if information is now gone? They should have sent an email blast that allowed students the opportunity to retrieve any information they needed.
As an incoming master's student who did my undergraduate work here, I would have loved access to some of the research listed on my past courses. I can think of articles that would have come in handy. With those courses off OWL, those articles will be harder to find again.
Well, Western needs to take action now. They should put all course content back on OWL for a week and allow students to grab anything they need. Then they can comply with any new standard. Anything less and they have failed their students.
—Bradley Metlin, master's candidate, political science
Editor's note: Bradley Metlin was a former member of the Gazette's editorial board and its digital managing editor during the 2016/17 academic year.