Seeking Dialogue on Grades
Published: Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 02:02
The Georgetown University Student Association launched an engagement campaign in response to the recent academic changes implemented to combat grade inflation proposed by the Office of the Provost, citing that students had not been consulted on the changes.
“We aren’t taking a specific stance on the reforms. The attitude is more so that we’re worried that, not that we weren’t consulted on these changes, but that we potentially might not be consulted on future changes that might occur,” Shweta Wahal (SFS ’16), chair of the Intellectual Life Committee said.
The engagement campaign involves collecting signatures to demonstrate student support for open dialogue on the topic of academic changes.
“We’re not trying to be aggressive, it’s more of a symbolic show of student support to opening up the conversation with Provost [Robert] Groves regarding the recent changes and changes to come,” Wahal said.
In addition, the signatures from the campaign will show that this issue affects more than just GUSA.
“Being able to show that to administrators is just a symbolic gesture, showing that it’s not just GUSA that’s upset that they’ve been slighted. It’s not just the academic councils upset because they’ve been slighted. It’s rather the entire student body saying, ‘Hey, we want a say in what’s going on, especially when it’s directly affecting us,’” GUSA Secretary of Academic Affairs Guy Mentel (COL ’14) said.
According to the Feb. 3 press release, the campaign will be conducted at the grassroots level, namely by senators on the Intellectual Life Committee.
“As representatives of the student body, if this is something you’re behind, something you want to show support for, take this petition and get signatures. Open up the conversation to your friends and say, ‘What do you say about this? What do you think alternative ways of going about combatting grade inflation are?’” Wahal said.
Wahal and Mentel have plans to carry out the campaign by engaging with administrators as well. While they have not been able to get in touch with Provost Robert Groves, both Wahal and Mentel intend to meet with him.
“We think that if we had been at the negotiating table, if we had been with the provost, somebody representing the student body, then maybe those concerns would have been heard,” Mentel said.
According to Randy Bass, vice provost for education, other potential methods of addressing grade inflation are being discussed.
“There are other potential changes or discussions of ways to address what people call grade inflation and that has come up at the Main Campus Executive Faculty. The issue is being discussed and no proposals have been launched there,” Bass said. “I think people are really concerned to try to find a way to address the issue without imposing grade guidelines, which does often end up with increasing competition and cheating.”
In response to the campaign, Bass pledged engagement from the administration.
“I think that we’ll continue to try to engage the student academic bodies in those changes, but these are conversations that are going on among Main Campus Executive Faculty. They’re not coming out of the provost’s office, or at least the grading change conversation is coming out of MCEF, not out of the provost’s office,” Bass said.
For senators supporting the campaign, opening a dialogue is essential.
“The most important thing is dialogue, and I think you’ll notice that one of the key things about the petition that it says is that we’re getting people to sign up to encourage dialogue,” Senator Ken Nunnenkamp (MSB ’16) said.
Once a meeting with the provost is scheduled, there are hopes that dialogue will move the discussion along.
“It can’t just be us trying to explain to the administrators because sometimes the most effective way things get accomplished is when we can put the provost in the same room with a hundred students from diverse backgrounds, with diverse thoughts, and that’s when you get real conversation and real productive change,” Nunnenkamp said.