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UC San Diego students demand changes to finals grading due to American police brutality

Students at the University of California San Diego are calling upon school officials to alter finals grading policy due to “recent acts of police brutality” and associated protests.

The demands, begun on social media and a form email to send to UCSD personnel, call for a “modification in the grading and/or the final exams,” universal pass/fail or universal pass being the favorites.

“Beyond it being inherently insensitive to force students, especially our black students, to hold the burden of maintaining their academic readiness in these horrific times,” the sample letter reads, “it is blatantly negligent to the severity of these events and their influence over one’s mental health and academic performance.”

Fifth year student Alex de Leon told the UCSD student paper The Guardian it “would be entirely cruel and dehumanizing” to expect black students to “carry on like everything’s good and normal.” He added “grades and finals should not have to be their top priority.”

Sophomore Hannah Legaspi, a “non-Black person of color,” noted that if she has been “deeply affected” by current events, imagine what black students are dealing with: “[T]his is [a] way for me to support them, and myself, and stand in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.”

From the Guardian story:

The university did release a statement on the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery on Friday, May 29. The statement denounced the racist incidents and explained that the Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is developing a series of community conversations to “provide spaces for healing and identifying ways to be agents of change in this moment.”

“We know that statements such as these do not resolve the intractable issues we face as a country,” the university’s statement reads. “We know it does not even begin to heal the hurt and trauma caused by structural and systemic racism and discrimination. Collectively, let us continue to work together for a more just, equitable and humane society in our service, activism, pedagogy, and community and collaborative efforts.”

Some students have argued that the university’s statement is not enough. David Nuñez, a third year John Muir College student, explained to The UCSD Guardian that more needs to be done to fully address the gravity of police brutality and the protests.

“While I appreciate UCSD as an institution standing in solidarity with Black communities at the moment, it’s important to remember that the UC System itself is also guilty of perpetuating police brutality,” Nuñez said. “Back in February, grad students protesting for COLA clashed with police employed by the [UC], resulting in some students being injured.”

Nuñez said the best thing the university can do to “comprehensively address” the matter is “uplift black students’ voices.” However, ironically, when the Executive Offices of Associated Students announced it would do just that — by establishing a “minority caucus within the Office of External Affairs” — some accused the AS of “sugar coating” police brutality because its announcement included poor “phrasing.”

Read the article.

MORE: Students’ difficulties with online exam show need for pass-fail grading

MORE: School district scraps traditional ‘A-F’ grades for kinder, gentler model

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