Parker Hess, a senior theatre arts major with a dance minor at Southern Utah University, is using his voice to make a difference. Hess has organized a petition requiring teachers to issue mid-semester grades to Banner, the information system used for advising students and posting final grades.
“Having midterm grades is essential to a student success,”said Hess. “It allows students, particularly freshmen and sophomores, to understand their class standing half way through the semester. If a student is underperforming, it would alert academic advisors who could support and guide students toward resources on campus. Knowing your overall grades at the midterm would allow students to take corrective action before it’s too late.”
Making a change like this has many steps. . University policy states that any fundamental change and/or addition must be officially written out and approved by Faculty Senate, Dean’s Council, and the President's Council, a review by the entire campus and approved by the Board of Trustees.
Hess presented the policy change along with over 1,200 student signatures of support on a petition.
According to Hess, the Dean’s Council sounded very positive and hopeful about the request as well as the President’s Council. When the policy was presented at Faculty Senate, Dave Berri, incoming faculty president said, “We are asking faculty to do their job and let students know, formally, where they stand.”
“With this policy change, it is my hope that more faculty and student interaction would occur with students taking advantage of professor office hours, increased class participation, asking questions and building stronger relationships between professors and students,” said Hess.
Hess thinks the petition is important for students to take a more active role in their education.
“I want to empower students. We are at an institution of higher education, and we should feel like what we do makes a difference. I hope this petition, regardless of the outcome, creates a new path for students where they realize that they are vital to the growth and success of the university, and they should speak up about what’s important to them. “ said Hess.
At SUU, students have the opportunity to make a real difference and see the effect of their effort on campus policy. Even if they’re not successful, Hess claims that those moments are just as important as their victories.
“Sometimes parents or advisors try to redirect us to prevent failure, but sometimes what we really need is for them to let us have our failures.” says Hess. “That’s part of the student experience. We need to stand up for what’s important to us and even if we fail, we learn and grow for the next time.”
The proposal has already completed the required 21 days for review across campus, a period that allows faculty to voice any questions or concerns they might have. The policy will be presented at President’s Council again in April. If approved, it will then be on the agenda for the Board of Trustees in May 2018.