May 2, 2017
First, I want to thank you for being supportive of our students during this intensely difficult time. Clearly, this traumatic event — the public stabbing death of one of their peers — impacts a large number of our students, including many who were not direct witnesses. I ask that each of you continue to demonstrate compassion and understanding as our students come to terms with this tragic loss. Please remember that everyone grieves differently and in their own time.
Many students have shared with us that they appreciate faculty who have openly discussed the tragedy in class, and I would like to thank you all for making time to have these valuable and productive discussions in your classroom.
We’ve been asked to provide more guidance on accommodations faculty can make.
Faculty have wide discretion to accommodate their students in extenuating circumstances, such as the recent tragic attack on campus. While they cannot alter the grading scheme, they can alter the weighting of assignments to favor the student when circumstances justify the change.
Given the nature of this tragedy, examples faculty may consider include, but are not limited to:
- Accepting the body of work to date in the course as evidence of student performance. However, a student cannot be denied the opportunity to improve their standing by completing all course assignments.
- If a student’s situation warrants it, reducing the amount of coursework assigned or extending the deadline for submission
- Creating a curve to adjust for reduced performance by the class relative to historical norms.
- Allowing the use of reading days preceding final exams to submit final assignments and/or papers.
- Use of the reading days preceding final exams for courses with required presentations or an examination that did not occur as a result of canceled classes. This should only be utilized as a last resort. New class meeting days must accommodate a student’s schedule and allowances must be made for students who cannot attend.
- Many students are entering their last days at the university and course grades this semester will determine whether they do in fact meet requirements for graduation. Before assigning a non-passing grade to a student who intends to graduate, please work with the student to ensure that he or she has every opportunity to earn a passing grade.
- Moreover, I have extended the deadline for registration in a class to pass/fail through May 5 for undergraduate students. Students have been advised to work with their academic advisors to ensure this does not have any adverse impact on academic progress. Most core and major requirements must be taken for a grade.
If you have questions or a circumstance not contained on this list, contact your academic dean for more information and guidance.
Again, thank you for continuing to support your students, and I appreciate your efforts to make accommodations for students when necessary.
Executive Vice President and Provost
The University of Texas at Austin