On Tuesday, March 31, TRU published an update on the COVID-19 situation to give students direction for the end-of-term – specifically grading accommodations – as well as financial and support services. For graduating students, the update also addressed convocation and commencement.
Many students have shared their thoughts regarding this notice and we want to assure you that we have heard your opinions, have raised them with TRU, and can provide the following clarifications and options.
Clarification of Convocation and Commencement Ceremonies
In the March 31 update, TRU reported that it, “is cancelling the Convocation and Commencement ceremonies that would normally take place in spring,” and would celebrate, “in a slightly different way,” including a mailed package of your parchment and commemorative items in combination with a virtual sharing space.
Many graduating students were understandably disappointed to lose the opportunity to participate in an in-person ceremony to share the momentous occasion and achievement more fully with their classmates, friends, and family.
We can now report that upon raising this with TRU it has been clarified that while Convocation and Commencement remain cancelled, efforts are being made to be able to have a Commencement and Convocation. Because of several unknown factors related to the current COVID-19 pandemic, no details or commitments can be confirmed at this time. Further, we can confirm that any future Commencement/Convocation would be in addition to the commemorative package and virtual celebration to happen in the meantime. We want to assure you that we will continue to monitor this issue and work to make a convocation possible for students and their families and that we will follow up with you as soon as we have further information.
Clarification of Course Withdrawal After Final Grades
In the March 31 update, TRU announced a specific accommodation, “to prevent lasting impacts on academic progress and success,” as a result of COVID-19. It offered the option to withdraw from a course even after a final grade has been assigned. However, the update stated this would be available to students, “who receive a final grade of ‘D’ or ‘F’.”
We understand that there will be students who feel their academic performance was negatively affected by the COVID-19 situation, but who receive a grade other than a ‘D’ or ‘F’. These students may also feel this grade will impact their academic progress and success or future endeavors (i.e. by lowering their cumulative GPA).
We can now report that upon raising this with TRU, it has been clarified that after a change in policy any student may choose to withdraw from a course after receiving a final grade if they feel that grade was negatively affected by the current circumstances.
Please also note that – prior to resorting to this option – student can now seek an extension of up to one academic term (i.e. until end of August) to complete course work before a final grade is assigned. This is at the discretion of your instructor, and appealable to your Dean. If any student has an issue in accessing this accommodation they should feel free to reach out to the TRUSU Members Advocate and we will be happy will assist you in that process.
Confirmation that Pass/Fail is Unavailable – and Related Support
In the March 31 update, TRU reported that it, “cannot offer a credit/non-credit (sometimes referred to as pass-fail) grading option,” due to resource, IT, and policy limitations.
We know that many of you are disappointed and dissatisfied that this option is unavailable to you, particularly when you see it made available to your peers at other universities. We are also sensitive to the fact that other accommodations may not provide everyone with outcomes they feel are fair.
Unfortunately, upon raising this with TRU, it has been confirmed that the pass/fail option is simply not feasible to offer here. We were assured that the option was fully considered before being ruled out. We know this is not the answer many of you wanted to hear, and the reasons why TRU students have fewer options than our peers is an issue the university will need to address in the future. However, for now we must confirm that we can only work to support you within the constraints they have confirmed are available us.
We want to encourage you to continue to work together with your instructors, Department Chairs, and Deans in their efforts to implement alternative format instruction and assessment, and seek accommodations from them as needed to successfully conclude this term as best you can. We want to make sure you have accurate information about and are familiar with the implications of the options that have been made available to you. Know that there are many people across the institution who are working hard to help you.
We also recognize that you may need help securing accommodations, and may end up with an unfair outcome in some cases. We are here to help you. The TRUSU Members’ Advocate is available for one-on-one support for whatever issue you may be facing in your studies. Please contact us here.
How to Move Forward
As we navigate the COVID-19 situation, it is important to remember that the ways in which our community is here to help:
- For academic issues, please stay in touch with your instructors. Explore your options for accommodations you may need with them first.
- For financial issues, contact Student Awards and Financial Aid. The Students’ Union has made additional emergency bursary resources available.
- For support services, TRU has made a wide range of supports available online from study supports to Library services. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 250.828.5023. TRUSU also operates a wide range of support services that can be found here or you can contact email@example.com or 250.828.5289.
- When in doubt, contact the TRUSU Members’ Advocate to get you on the right track for resources and support.