Minus Student Opinion
by Nicole Howley | published Aug. 28th, 2014
When I came to RIT in fall of 2011, I had no idea about the plus/minus grading transition. No one told me that it would be going into effect my senior year. No one told me that the new system would affect my final GPA. And in the end, no one gave me – a current student who is hugely affected by the policy – any say in the decision either.
RIT says that they value student opinion, and in many ways their actions are reflective of this claim. Students are surveyed and encouraged to provide feedback. Student Government has a significant role not just in a variety of RIT’s committees, but also in Institute Council, one of the final decision-making bodies in RIT’s governance.
Despite this, however, RIT has made many decisions over the past five years or so that have affected students here today while also effectively eliminating any student say in the process. The plus/minus grading system was only one of them; the semester transition was one too, and last year the smoking ban almost became one as well.
These decisions generally proceed in a particular way: RIT’s administration wants to make a decision that many – or even most – students oppose. In order to appease current students or to tranquilize student opposition, they decide that the unpopular policy will not go into effect until five years after the decision is made, when most of the current students will have graduated.
Current students, with their schedules already packed with schoolwork and other commitments, decide that since the decision will no longer affect them, it isn’t necessary for them to continue focusing on or fighting for a say in the issue. Without current students opposing the policy, it passes.
Five years later, when students are affected by the policy that they, too, may be opposed to, RIT’s Administration can say that the decision was already made; no taking it back now.
Students concerned at the time these decisions are made have their voices eliminated because the administration can tell them, “Why should you care? It won’t affect you.” Students at the time of implementation have their opinions quashed because the decision is made, the plans are set, and there is no going back on the decision that was made years ago.
Whether or not this phenomenon is intentional is unclear; however, the effects are the same, and they are unacceptable from an institution that claims to value its students’ perspectives.
RIT, if you do value your students, that means taking their opinions, concerns and perspectives into consideration, and not using strategies that effectively eliminate them from the decision-making process. Involve students in every step of the decision-making and implementation process.
Students, if you still want a say in plus/minus grading at least in your classes, you have the option to petition your professors to use the old grading system instead.
In the end, RIT, what I’m trying to say is that students want more than your free t-shirts and fancy orientations; they want respect and a say in the decisions that affect them. You took away our quarters; at least give us this.
Post to the Reporter Facebook or Twitter with your thoughts on plus/minus grading with #ViewsAsks and we’ll showcase them online with Storify.
Storify is a website that allows users to collect the responses of people from Facebook, Twitter and across the internet to tell a holistic story, to detail an ongoing trend or in this case, display the public voice of RIT at large. Reporter hopes to make #ViewsAsks a monthly column in which we ask important or relevant questions to the RIT community and post them on our site through Storify. We want to give the denizens of RIT a chance to have their voices heard.