It's sick season. Bardia Boomer/Fulcrum
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Something shitty happens every fall.

It seems that every year from the end of September to the mid-part of December, everyone I know gets sick. The stuffy nose, the unpleasant nausea, and of course, the deafening cough. For being such a beautiful season, the fall can certainly be an unpleasant time to be human.

Couple these harsh fall symptoms with the lingering COVID-19, and you’re left with a complicated student experience in 2022.

With many lectures leaving the online format and returning in person, many U of O students are facing an uncomfortable dilemma this fall: should students attend lectures while sick? Or should they miss out on their lectures completely?

This is hardly Sophie’s Choice — both of these options suck. If students attend lectures while sick, they risk both worsening their condition and making other students sick. I should also mention that attempting to learn in a lecture with a cold is about as effective as telling your dad the names of your friend; sure, he’ll listen, but you’ll be lucky if he remembers 30 per cent of what you tell him. Similarly, staying home and missing a lecture sets students back, placing them in a challenging position to catch up.

So, what’s the solution? How can students complete their fall semesters without navigating this ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ dilemma? To me, the solution is as clear as the fall sky — record all lectures.

Recording lectures allows sick students to attend lectures while, at the same time, preventing them from spreading their illnesses. And the best part of this solution is that the University, thanks to the last couple of years, it can be assumed the University already has much of the infrastructure in place to facilitate this.

The solution I’m purposing here is certainly divisive. There are students who would appreciate recorded lectures just as there are certainly some students, and perhaps administration members, who oppose.

Undoubtedly, there is a rather large elephant in the lecture hall. I’m sure some believe that if lectures are recorded then class attendance will drop, and that by recording classes, students would be enticed to stay home and watch the recorded version instead of taking the hike to campus.

This is a fair criticism, but there are other things to consider, too. Firstly, having taken several bimodal courses (in-person lectures streamed to online viewers,) I will note anecdotally that many students in the online sections expressed interest in attending the in-person sessions as opposed to their online format. This is to say that, in my experience, students generally have a preference for attending in-person classes when given an option to also attend virtually. So, at scale, if lectures were to be recorded this fall term, I’m confident that most students will continue to attend in person.

Secondly, even if some small percentage of students decided to miss in-person lectures to attend recorded versions, what would be the problem? In a hypothetical lecture hall with 100 students, if 10 opted for the recorded version, the vast majority would still be attending in person. And any students who favoured the recorded versions would still be able to consume the course content. In the words of Michael Scott, this sounds like a “win-win” situation.

At this point, it seems obvious that recording lectures is advantageous — at least for the fall semester. After the initial transition online, I’m pretty sure the University has the technology to easily record lectures, and given the inevitable rise of illnesses this fall, the U of O should seriously consider doing so.


  • Matthew is a fourth-year student studying philosophy and political science at the University of Ottawa. This is his first year as the Fulcrum’s Opinions Editor, and he looks forward to hearing opinions from all his fellow students.