Proposed COVID-19 transcript notation misses student experiences, senator says

A Senate proposal to include a COVID-19 notation on student transcripts was met with criticism from student senators.

On May 27, the Senate discussed the inclusion of two sentences on student transcripts for second semester of the 2019/20 academic year explaining the trying circumstances that uprooted the lives of students and faculty alike.

Curriculum Committee Chair Dr. Peter Marshall presented the statement, which briefly explained that as of March 2020, UBC shifted its instructional mode online due to COVID-19 disruptions. It also explains that the university allowed students to apply for credit/D/fail standing for an unlimited number of courses if they chose to.

However, the student senate caucus raised concerns at the meeting about whether the statement accurately reflects student experiences. Student Senator Dante Agosti-Moro said the committee did agree that it is important to include a transcript notation, but pointed out the proposed statement’s shortcomings.

“The notation presented by the committee does not adequately cover the hardships faced by students,” he said in an interview. “Students’ lives were disrupted mid-semester with around three weeks of classes still remaining.”

Agosti-Moro specifically noted how the pandemic impacted international students, some of which ended up attending lectures late in the night due to different time zones.

In an emailed statement, Marshall did not comment on specifics, saying that the statement had been sent back to committee for review.

Student Senator Max Holmes said at the meeting that this was part of a broader lack of student consultation during the pandemic. Associate Registrar Chris Eaton said four students had been consulted for the statement, all of whom are members of the Senate Curriculum Committee.

In an email, Eaton said that Senate has since developed a new statement that has been reviewed by the Senate Curriculum Committees in response to student concerns. He said the statement will come to Senate at a meeting later this July.

According to Agosti-Moro, UBC should look into the transcript notations presented by the curriculum committees at other leading Canadian universities such as McGill and University of Toronto when revising the statement.

“The notation should state that lectures, the classroom environment and learning modules were disrupted,” he said. “It is important for the notation to capture the hardships the students faced during the period despite the limited space.”

This article was updated to include that a new notation is being developed and will come to Senate this month.