There are a lot of different things I could talk about here, and I can’t ever cover all of them in one editorial, but before I begin, credit where credit is due – the recent U-turn on the return to campus and the decision to hold graduations in person are good decisions – Ka Pai.
But what this editorial is about is one area where the University is failing. UoA Students deserve a grade bump this semester.In Semester One, in recognition of the disruption caused by COVID-19, all students received a 5% grade boost. This semester, the University are only providing this boost to students who achieve within 47-49% – moving their grade to a pass. That’s great for students disrupted who are now only just failing – or students whose disruption has shifted them from a C- to a D+ – but fails to recognise the wider impact of COVID-19 on all students.
You cannot measure the personal effect of a global pandemic for each student – It’s impossible to assess the multitude of ways that students or their whānau have been affected. That’s why a grade boost is an ideal solution – it recognises the widespread impact and gives everyone a lift.
So even if you’re passing why do you deserve the boost? Because you can’t only recognise the impact for students where they’re in the marginal fail group. A range students may now be B students, B’s become C’s and so on. Late penalties stack up and personal situations outside of the university impact on grades. Your GPA has implications far beyond passing or failing – access to scholarships, postgraduate qualifications, and competitive entry programmes all dependent on maintaining a certain GPA. To only provide a grade boost to the D+ students tell students that provided they pass, they should be okay. But this is not what the rest of the system tells us.
The University must give all students a 5% grade boost this semester. It’s imperative to supporting student wellbeing in what has been a somewhat shitty year.
In an email sent a couple weeks ago, Dawn Freshwater said her key concern during this period was to “ensure certainty and predictability for our students and staff”.
Since that email came out, Freshwater has:
- Told students and staff that the university will definitely resume on the 2nd of October (so you better book your flights back home soon!).
- Told students and staff (two days before university was supposed to resume) that actually university would start at a later, unspecified date (so you better cancel those flights quick!).
- Told students and staff that there definitely will not be any grade bumps this semester (so maybe look into getting a late deletion if your studies have been impacted!).
- Told students and staff that actually there will be a grade bump for those who barely fail a class (so maybe keep going!).
- Told students and staff that graduation is definitely “cancelled” (so you better cancel your family’s flights, give back all that gear you hired, and apply for an absentia graduation!).
- Told students and staff a few days later that actually graduation is back on (so you better rebook your plane tickets and graduation gear hires!).
- Added in her last email that actually the graduation won’t be on if we move back into level two around the time of it, and that it will “probably” be online if we do (so you better… wait and see?).
Where is the certainty? Where is the predictability?
The University of Auckland has more flip-flops than a jandal factory. It has more second thoughts than a sentient clock. It changes heart quicker than a doctor performing by-pass surgery; it changes course more often than a first-year failing med. It backtracks like an osteopath observing a slow spinal recovery. It pulls off one-eighties like prime Tony Hawk. It has more reversals up its sleeve than my Mum playing Uno.
We deserve better than this.