Over the summer, members of the Undergraduate Council negotiated with administrators in an effort to reverse the Faculty Council’s decision on removing course difficulty scores from the Q Guide starting in 2015. Following conversations with Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith, UC representatives have drafted a position paper summarizing the opinions of the student body which will be soon sent to administrators and faculty.
The UC has been soliciting student input on the council’s decision to generate this position paper since Harris sent an email announcing the Q Guide changes last May. UC vice president Sietse K. Goffard ’15 said that these are efforts are a response to the fact that students were not consulted on an issue that directly concerns them.
“This episode over the summer really highlighted a disturbing and important trend across the college,” Goffard said. “Over and over again, across the board, students are not being sufficiently consulted when it comes to matters that concern them.”
The position paper, co-authored by education committee chair Dhruv P. Goyal ’16 and Quincy House representative Brett M. Biebelberg ’16, argues that students must have access to a difficulty rating in order to balance their course load.
Additionally, the authors argue that the decision, which was made in September of 2013, was poorly communicated to students.
“Any decision [The Faculty Council] make[s] that will directly affect the academic or core curricular life of students should be communicated in a timely manner,” Goyal said. “Seven and a half months later is not appropriate.”
While the UC acknowledges the arguments against posting a difficulty score on the Q Guide, such as student exploitation of the score solely to take an easy course load, Goffard said he believes students should have access to some metric of difficulty, be it qualitative or quantitative. More importantly, Goffard said, is that students should have had a voice in the decision-making process.
Goffard said the issue over the difficulty score has provided the UC a platform on which to campaign for greater student voice in the University.
“Ideally we would like to have some sort of vote [in the Faculty Council], but obviously a vote is ambitious, so some sort of sustained consultation when it comes to the Faculty Council trying to make decisions,” Goffard said.
Though the UC has not officially taken a vote on an initiative to reinstate the difficulty rating on the Q guide, Goffard said that an “overwhelming” number of members support the effort.
—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Meg_Bernhard.