The impacts of COVID-19 have made all of our school lives more difficult. At the University of Toronto, the credit/no credit (CR/NCR) policy has been key in ameliorating academic difficulties. After all, being able to see your grade before deciding to CR/NCR is a sigh of relief in the face of heavily-weighted — yet now uncertain — finals.
However, this is not a privilege afforded to all U of T students. In fact, UTSC and UTM students, who face the same difficulties in light of the spread of COVID-19, are making their CR/NCR choices without knowing their final marks.
UTSC and UTM students can only make their decisions until April 25 and April 22 respectively, and “no final grades will be released until after this date” per the UTSC website.
UTSG’s Faculty of Arts & Science was the first to announce its updated CR/NCR policy on March 15. It would have made sense for UTSC and UTM to follow suit, but instead, their announcements came two days after, with different CR/NCR deadlines.
The rationale that was offered for the differences between campuses is what is truly frustrating.
The UTM website helpfully outlines that “the regulations and procedures that govern these decisions… may vary among the divisions across the University, as is normally the case.” These differences aim to “[maintain] academic standards of degrees and programs.”
In other words, differences in regulations and procedures, academic standards, and more are the cause of differences in policy.
Yet I do not believe that academic standards are so different across the three campuses as to warrant such a substantial variance.
To be clear, the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the Rotman School of Management at UTSG have both taken identical positions to the Faculty of Arts & Science. If three widely differing divisions with differing academic regulations and policies can arrive at the same decision downtown, then UTSC and UTM ought to as well.
For students who are dependent on final marks for employment, graduate school, and beyond, the ability to CR/NCR without knowledge of final marks is not sufficient when faced with writing a final that’s worth 40–50 per cent of their grade in an experimental, untested format. UTSG, the University of Waterloo, and Ryerson University all seem to agree on offering students the ability to CR/NCR after viewing their grades.
Fundamentally, this is an equity issue. UTSC and UTM students are U of T students too; they face the same academic standards, graduate with the same degree, and are equally impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Every U of T student deserves the same accommodations in the face of this pandemic.
Perhaps the university needs to listen to the petitions being circulated by those who have been impacted.
George Chen is a fourth-year Management and International Business student at UTSC.