Commentary: University slow to provide flexible grading options to students

Kyle Bye, a business student at the University of Regina poses in front of a former popular study area. Photo by Dawson Thompson

A student-led petition generated 4,500 on-line signatures — roughly one-quarter of the University of Regina’s enrolment — and helped convince the school to implement pass/fail grades for the current, virus-interrupted semester.

In the petition she posted March 24 on, U of R student Sara Birrell cited the disruption caused by the COVID-19 virus as a reason for allowing students the option of pass/fail:

“The province is under a state of emergency and every day the stress and toll of facing a pandemic is growing. The University must put students and faculty first. Make the semester pass/fail now.”

The University of Regina made a public address on March 30 regarding additional flexible grading, nine days before the end of the semester.

The university provided students with a system that prioritizes completing the semester.

According to the release from the university, students now have until May 31, to decide if they would like to keep their grades after their course is completed. Students now have the option to take a CRC, (Credit COVID-19) which allows students with a low passing grade to get credit for their course but not have their mark affect their GPA. Or, students can choose to take an NCC, (No-Credit COVID-19) which allows students who failed their course due to COVID-19 to take a no-credit for their course but not have it affect their GPA. Students can also withdraw from their class until April 9, the last day of scheduled classes.

Kyle and Nathan Bye, first-year students in the business and kinesiology faculties are frustrated with how things have been going for them over the past few weeks while still living on campus wondering what they should be doing.

“They sent out a lot of emails saying that we are moving to online,” said Kyle. “But they didn’t tell us what it was going to be like or how to prepare, or study methods, and how to communicate with professors more efficiently, we kinda just felt left in the dark for two weeks.”

“A couple of my professors were saying different things than The Carillon,” said Nathan. “The Saturday after it came out that they were canceling classes, my professor emailed us saying that classes were still on so it caused a lot of confusion for students.”

Trystan Dowd, a third-year computer science student at the university, along with Nathan and Kyle, decided to not sign the petition.

“I would rather just finish off all my classes and get what I paid for out of them,” said Dowd. “Rather than just getting the pass-fail and finishing the semester.”

“For the fact that the university just seems behind on everything, it kinda makes me upset that the university took this long to figure this out. They definitely had the time and even opportunities to see how these other universities dealt with it and to see how other students handled it and from there they could make a decision, but now there’s been universities that have already decided this weeks ago.”

One student’s parent is also concerned about how this is affecting their son while isolated at the university,

“It’s not fair that a student is left at the university away from home with no family and support,” said Kim Carter.

“This should have been decided ages ago.”

Kyle Bye looks over the petition on Photo by Dawson Thompson

During this time of completing courses without all the services offered by the university, questions about tuition have started to raise concern,

“I feel like I have been cut off and isolated from all of the parts of the university,” said Kyle.

“With the tuition value, you are able to use all the resources like being able to go into classes, you can access the Archer Library and all the different things around campus.”

“At the moment, with the coronavirus, no,” said Carter, when asked if she thought students were receiving full tuition value. “Because there is not as much hands-on, and not as much support as I think they should be getting.”

“Obviously, one decision will benefit some people, another will benefit others,” said Dowd. “I think no matter what their choice is, there is never going to be a choice that makes everyone happy.”

Rather than completing the semester with limited services, students would have preferred another option,

“I would be really happy with my current grades,” said Kyle.

“I would take a current grade in some of my classes,” said Nathan.

“Stick with giving them a final grade,” said Carter.

The university has stepped up its efforts in stopping the spread of the virus since suspending the use of reusable mugs on campus by recommending all students move off of campus if they are able.

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