University of Georgia Professor Richard Watson was forced to change his policies after a Campus Reform story came out showing that he was allowing students to decide for themselves what grades they achieved in his class. Under the guise of a “Stress Reduction Policy,” Professor Watson encouraged his students to look at their grades, decide if they would cause them to be “stressed,” and then ask for a different grade if they needed relief from that emotional burden. And please note, we’re not talking about some mushy social science course here, either. Watson teaches Data Management, which sounds like the kind of course where your grades would not be particularly subjective.
“If you feel unduly stressed by a grade for any accessible material or the overall course, you can email the instructor indicating what grade you think is appropriate, and it will be so changed,” Watson said in the syllabus. “No explanation is required, but it is requested that you consider waiting 24 hours before emailing the instructor.”
Another aspect of Watson’s policy gave students the option of leaving their group work at a time of their choosing without worrying about what that might do to their overall grade average. Furthermore, all exams were open-book, meaning, essentially, that you would have to be some kind of blockhead to actually get a bad grade in his class. Which just proves the earlier point: If you were failing Watson’s class, you damn well deserved to be failing.
“Only positive comments about presentations will be given in class,” Watson’s Stress Reduction Policy continued. “Comments designed to improve future presentations will be communicated by email.”
What kind of ridiculous, safe-space nonsense is this, anyway? Is he teaching tomorrow’s leaders or a class filled with soft bunny rabbits?
After the policies went public, the University of Georgia released a statement frowning on Watson’s kid-gloves approach to teaching.
“The University of Georgia applies very high standards in its curricular delivery, including a university-wide policy that mandates all faculty employ a grading system based on transparent and pre-defined coursework,” they said.
Professor Watson subsequently removed the policy from his syllabus.