Apr 3, 2020

With Email Bombardment, Students Step Up ‘No Detriment’ Campaign

Students are emailing College demanding that those with a passing grade will not have their mark brought down by summer assessments.

Orla MurnaghanEditor-At-Large
Alex Connolly for The University Times

Trinity students have today begun a campaign of email bombardment against the College, demanding the implementation of a “no detriment” policy for this year’s summer assessment.

The move marks an escalation of a campaign – launched by students Amber Davy and Grainne Sexton – that began with a petition earlier this week.

Today, a private Facebook group was set up encouraging students to email Provost Patrick Prendergast, Vice-Provost Jurgen Barkhoff and Senior Lecturer Kevin Mitchell asking for the implementation of a system that could mean students who get over 40 will not have their overall mark for the year brought down by summer assessments.


In a post in the group, Sexton said: “Trinity hate nothing more than negative publicity and our hope is that both media attention and pressure from public representatives will force college to consider fairer provisions for the upcoming exams.”

“Over the next few days, we will be launching a defined strategic plan for you all to contact your local TDs, councillors and senators”, she wrote. “For now, however, focus on bombarding the Provost, Vice-Provost, Senior Lecturer and your Head(s) of School.”

The campaign comes after Trinity notified students that both online and offline exams would be taking place instead of formal examination sessions in the RDS.

In an email to students yesterday, Trinity’s Senior Lecturer Kevin Mitchell said: “For some modules, the scheduled final examination will be replaced by an assignment. In other cases, an exam will be set. This will either be in a take-home format that can be completed offline and uploaded by a given time or in a real-time online format, where students will interact continuously with the online platform.”

The previous day, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union president Laura Beston met the provost to discuss the possibility of implementing a no-detriment policy, but Mitchell’s email did not reference this.

The template email reads: “It is undeniable that the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent measures taken by the government have affected each student at Trinity. The university closure has been disruptive to students’ study habits, in particular those that are dependent on university facilities such as the library or laboratories.”

The template also notes that “a safety net for students is an adaptable concept that has been embraced by a multitude of universities, and therefore we believe that there is no reason that Trinity cannot commit to implementing their own version”.

This week, The University Times revealed that the provost, vice-provost and senior lecturer have been given the power to make decisions on summer exams without having to consult College’s decision-making bodies.

College Board and University Council have agreed to delegate their functions to Provost Patrick Prendergast, Vice-Provost Jurgen Barkhoff and Senior Lecturer Kevin Mitchell, who will be able to make decisions on matters relating to summer exams – a source of concern for many students – “without having to wait a month for Council or Board to meet”.

In a memorandum, circulated by email to members of University Council and obtained by The University Times, Vice-Provost Jurgen Barkhoff wrote that “urgent action needs to be taken to allow for changes to the exam regulations and practices as documented in the Calendar and course handbooks”.

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