The Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) recently obtained a decisive victory through its ongoing Academic Advocacy campaign by securing an extension for credit/no credit (CR/NCR) options on courses. Compared to the previous deadline, which was two weeks before the end of the semester, the extension allows students to make a choice about whether they would like their grade in a course to appear on their transcript up until the last day of classes for the session.
The Academic Advocacy campaign has hinged upon making students aware of the importance of their academic rights, with posters and outreach extending across UTSC. Other changes the SCSU’s campaign are advocating for include the option of a self-declared sick note system, capping late penalties at five percent per day, and lifting the ban on laptops that is currently enforced in some courses.
Academic issues can be difficult to manage at U of T, with lengthy bureaucratic processes for academic appeals and petitions for re-grading coursework. It is even more difficult for students to navigate these issues during times of stress, such as while ill. However, following the recent campaign, it is reported that the SCSU has seen an increase in petitions and appeals this year, a possible reflection of the effectiveness of their current awareness tactics.
By advocating for the educational rights of students at UTSC, the SCSU is initiating an important dialogue. Many of these rules and processes are explained in syllabi or long documents on the university website, weighed down by heavy jargon and red tape. Some students are not aware of their options due to the inaccessibility of these documents, including the highlighted example of the right to refuse to use Turnitin, an online plagiarism checker.
As the SCSU continues to work towards its demands in its Academic Advocacy campaign, one would hope that this win is one of many to come for UTSC students in the fight for academic rights and accessibility.
Anastasia Pitcher is a first-year student at New College studying Life Sciences.