Opening Up a Dialogue in Poli Sci

PSSA to Meet With Department Chair Over Grade Curving

The Political Science Student Association is planning to meet with the chair of Concordia’s political science department to address the curving of grades, and the student suing the university over the curve.

PSSA President Fady Toban has decided to meet with the chair following a story published in The Link last week concerning political science student William Groombridge, who is suing the university for what he alleges was a breach of contract due to excessive grading on the bell curve.

Groombridge was one of a handful of students whose grade was dropped from an A-minus to a B-plus following a directive from the department Chair. The decision was due, apparently, to an excess of A-range grades in a particular class; however, no official written policy concerning a cap on A grades seems to exist.

The Link attempted to contact Csaba Nikolenyi, the political science chair, and Arts and Science faculty Student Academic Services Associate Dean Catherine Bolton, but both declined to comment, as the case is still before the courts.

According to the Office of the General Counsel, “the origin and application of the grading policy is, in fact, part of the legal case, so we cannot speak to it at all.”

“The situation is really unfortunate, and I do feel bad for the student,” said Toban, expressing that questionable curving of grades in the department came to the attention of the PSSA late last year.

“[Groombridge is] in a situation where there are greater forces at play, and he’s the one who’s really suffering the most,” said Toban.

Toban says that he’s had opportunities to meet with Nikolenyi on various occasions. He believes that his intentions are good, and that Nikolenyi is “very dedicated to students.”

“[The PSSA] wants to find a student-friendly solution, but obviously with respect to the department,” said Toban.

To that end, the PSSA will be convening for a regular departmental council meeting on Nov. 7, at which point Toban intends to discuss the situation with his members.

The association will write and publish a formal statement regarding the issue at next week’s meeting, but not before consulting with Nikolenyi.

“I think it’s important that, before we release any statement from the department council about what’s going on, we talk to the chair and understand his point of view,” said Toban.

“At least this way we can open up dialogue so that we can explain to him what students are saying and so we can also understand where he is coming from.”

While Toban maintains­­­­­ that the PSSA cannot reverse the decisions of the department, he does intend to follow through with discussions and try to come to some form of resolution.

“It’s unfortunate because it’s the students that seem to be suffering the most, because they are in a situation where they are caught between professors and the department,” said Toban.

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