A letter asking the university administration to exclude one class from each term from students’ grade point average has been rejected.
The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union sent the letter before the December break, addressed to senior university administrators. The USSU requested that the university push colleges to consider having one class each out of students’ courses in the Fall Term 2020 and Winter Term 2021 to be excluded from their grade point average. Signed by all the executives, the USSU hoped that this compassionate grading measures would address the difficulties students are facing with online courses.
USSU president Autumn LaRose-Smith emphasized the word “compassion” when explaining this type of grading. She says that she can’t imagine how hard it must be for students to participate in classes when the world is “crumbling all around” them.
“[We are] trying to acknowledge that and adopt a system to acknowledge that on an institutional level so it doesn’t have significant impacts on the individual’s life moving forward,” La-Rose Smith said.
After the USSU sent the letter, the university administration had many internal discussions between senior and college administrators, says Patti McDougall, vice-provost of teaching, learning and student experience. March 1 was the deadline for colleges to reply to the university on the matter. The proposed method was not adopted for this year.
McDougall says there are other compassionate practices currently in use where instructors are showing compassion in their grading in various colleges to support students during the pandemic. McDougall points retroactive withdrawals as an option for students.
“There is much happening within colleges to ensure that compassion is being shown to students who are reporting adverse effects of COVID and the conditions that extend from living through a pandemic,” McDougall said in an email to the Sheaf.
For the university, another consideration that put in question the need for compassionate grading measures was the fact that some students have been performing better this academic year in comparison to past years, says McDougall.
“Our data tells us that there is a significant number of students who are actually doing better,” McDougall said. “But, it’s important to not just ignore or leave behind somebody who is seriously struggling could find themselves in a position where they’re being asked or required to discontinue.”
LaRose-Smith says that students are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety this year, which is affecting their learning experience.
“I think it has definitely affected the quality of education but it’s definitely affected my ability to learn as well as [to] be successful,” LaRose-Smith said.
Wardah Anwar | News Editor
Graphic: Akshara Dash