A black-out during a test on Friday, March 29, left Wits University accounting students distressed. The lights went out within the last half hour of the test and as a result students couldn’t complete their tests.
The students were writing a Financial Accounting 2 (FinaAcc 2) paper in Central Block, Exams Hall and around 10 am the lights went out for ten minutes. The test papers were taken back as a result of the disruption. According to the Accounting Students Council (ASC), students were told at the venue that their marks would be based on time apportionment. The news was not welcomed by the students.
According to Dankie Mokwena, representative of the ASC, time apportionment meant that because the bulk of the time was allocated to earlier questions, the test would be marked as such. Students argued that they did not complete earlier questions and were counting on returning to them in the last minutes of the paper. Queen Mogala, 2nd year BAccSci said, “I was hoping to come back to all of those questions.”
Students speak out
Nicole Sapna Heeralal, 2nd year, BAccSci said most people had left the last question that carried 21 marks to finish in the last half hour of the test. She said that when the lights went out, “They didn’t think of opening the ventilation or the doors (for light),” she said. “They realised they can’t give us our papers back … They said they couldn’t let us continue with the paper. They going to reduce the marks.” However, students said that the FinAcc 2 paper counted 10% towards their final year mark.
They also need to think that it’s the last half hour, which is the most productive of any test.
Sapna Heeralal said most students were disappointed because the paper was doable, “They also need to think that it’s the last half hour, which is the most productive of any test. You finish your last ‘bits and your blanks’. So many people had left totals to finish in the last few minutes.”
Ruvimbo Mapanga, 2nd year BAccSci said that when the lights went out, she didn’t realise it happened and she thought she blanked out. “I couldn’t believe it. For a good two minutes I was trying to squint my eyes to try carry on. It was pitch black.” Mapanga hoped that they would be given an extra 10 minutes to complete their papers.
“People are really upset about this. You should have seen people’s faces when they announced it. People looked like they genuinely wanted to cry … It was terrible,” she said.
FinAcc 2 has a reputation amongst students for having low pass rates and they expressed their outrage on social media accounts. A user on Twitter said, “I happen to think FinAcc 2 has recently been one of the poorly run/performing departments in the School of Accounting.”
As a result student adviser and lecturer Belinda Breytenbach said “We will have a rewrite in block 2”.
However, students are more worried about their Taxation test, presentations and assignments due in the next block. The ASC is working to represent student views about the situation as best possible by calling for students to speak out via the ASC Twitter account.