We often follow controversies at universities and there is an interesting one brewing in New York. Students at The New School are demanding A’s in all of their classes after a successful strike in support of adjunct faculty members. After faculty received higher wages and better health care, students are demanding that they should be given As regardless of attendance after participating in the protests.
In their letter of demands, the students “demand that every student receives a final course grade of A as well as the removal of I/Z grades for the Fall 2022 semester.” They added that “attendance shall have no bearing on course grade.” They are also demanding refunds and tuition freezes. They also want the resignations of the school’s president, provost, vice president and the disbandment of the Board of Trustees.
There are a couple of disconnects in these demands. First, it appears that the strike for part-time faculty only started roughly a week or two ago — after much of the term was completed. (Some accounts say that the strike lasted three weeks). The first day of the Fall 2022 term at The New School began on August 29th. Faculty can offer additional time to make up for that disruption, but it is not clear why it should effectively negate the entire term.
Second, a more common response to long disruptions in courses is to offer students the option of securing pass/fail grades — not the awarding of A’s to everyone.
There is a reasonable demand for accommodation given the loss of classes and delay in the term. However, A’s are given as a measure of academic success. It would create the appearance that the students excelled in classes rather than simply registered for the class during a disrupted term.
In the end, for the school to yield to such a demand would shred any semblance of academic integrity. This is not like everyone gets a trophy in middle school soccer games. If the school treats grades as fungible and meaningless, it could find the same view attaches to its degrees.