Point of View: Grade policy cheapens others’ hard work

By Caty Hirst
City Editor

Baylor has a lot of great policies. One of them, allows students to drop a class without a grade being recorded through the 20th class day. That, I think, is a very just policy.

Twenty days gives students time to learn about the class and determine if they will have the time and ability to manage it for the rest of the semester. The policy gives them ample time to drop without negative consequences.

There is one policy, however, that I think Baylor takes too far in showing mercy to students.

The Baylor student handbook states that after students fail a course, they are allowed to repeat that course and “the grade received the last time the course is taken is the only grade that counts on the student’s GPA.”

This policy is unjust for multiple reasons, not the least because it rewards bad behavior. It sends the message to students that they can slack off during the semester and then be rewarded for not working hard.

They can fail a class, and instead of this negatively affecting their GPA, they can retake the class (and it will be easier because they already at least semi-know the material and are familiar with the material).

After they retake the class, and get an A for example, their GPA is not positively — instead of negatively — affected by first failing a class.

It is also categorically unfair to other students who work hard the first time. For example, say John Smith spent the semester studying hard for his economics class.

He skipped hanging out with friends to make sure he studied, maybe he didn’t go to a few Baylor basketball games, pulled a few all nighters, spent the weekends in the library and eventually got a B+ in the class.

In contrast, Jim Bob, who sat behind him, went out every weekend, partied with his friends and generally didn’t care about economics at all.

He failed the class. Many would say he got what he deserved — but then he retakes the class the following semester (after already having taken the class once and learned some of the information), and gets a B+, too.

This policy is also discriminatory; it privileges the rich students at Baylor, and disadvantages the poor students. Students who come from wealthy backgrounds and have the financial ability to stay at Baylor longer or take summer classes to replace grades are less likely to take these classes seriously.

In contrast, students who are financially strapped are pressured to do better in classes because they cannot afford to stay any longer than necessary.

This policy is also not compatible with the real world. In reality, when we all get jobs, we aren’t going to be able to fail at a task given to us by our employers and expect to have no consequences.

Finally, this policy cheapens academic honors such as graduating Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, Summa Cum Laude or with a 4.0. I know a student graduating in May with a 4.0 — but this student definitely does not have a 4.0.

He failed two classes and was given the opportunity to retake these classes, and got As. He is now graduating with a perfect 4.0, which completely cheapens the efforts of people who have labored their entire college career to ensure they could graduate with a 4.0.

This policy could easily be re-evaluated. Perhaps exceptions could be made for students who auto-fail because of illness or accidents, but these students are definitely not the majority.

The majority of students who take advantage of this policy fail because they got lazy or did not put in the effort.

Caty Hirst is a senior journalism major from Cado, Okla. She is the city editor for the Lariat.