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Clemson takes grade distribution reports offline

UPDATE (9/5/18 10:50 p.m.): Story has been updated to include Clemson University’s response to The Tiger’s Freedom of Information request seeking copies of the grade distribution reports.

Clemson University has taken its grade distribution reports offline, resulting in a public outcry on social media.

The reports were taken down indefinitely earlier this month so that “a broader campus discussion can occur regarding its availability, access details, and wise use by University citizens.”

Below is the full explanation about the removal posted by the university on the grade distribution website:

“Per agreement between the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Senate, the grade distribution report was taken off-line as of August 6, 2018 for an indefinite period in order that a broader campus discussion can occur regarding its availability, access details, and wise use by University citizens. It is anticipated that the future availability and development of a grade distribution data tool will be guided by both a) ongoing policy development under the Enterprise Information Management Plan, and b) a shared vision that emerges from discussions between the administration and duly recognized representative bodies of faculty, staff, and students. During this time, the report or its underlying data may still be used by appropriate administrative parties with legitimate institutional interests in monitoring, measuring, and planning associated with student success, achievement, and retention. Please direct questions, concerns, and requests for additional information to Jeremy King, Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness ([email protected]).”

For those who are unfamiliar with the grade distribution reports, they were a searchable database that showed how many students got A’s, B’s, C’s, etc. in each professor’s class each semester. Many students used these reports to decide which classes and professors to take from.

The news about the removal first broke on the Clemson subreddit a few days after the reports were taken offline, and many students have expressed outrage on social media about the action.

“What the f— how am I supposed to know which s—– teachers to avoid now? Ratemyprofessors[.com] can only give you so much info. Some awful profs must’ve gotten their feelings hurt,” Reddit user u/redsoxman6594 posted on the Clemson subreddit.

Several Clemson community members have pushed online for a petition to be created and for students to contact members of student government and the university administration. At the time of publication, a petition has yet to be created.

On Aug. 20, The Tiger filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the grade distribution reports.

The university denied The Tiger’s request on Sept. 4, stating:

“Your request seeks all possible grade distribution reports available through a particular web application that pulls information from a database. Due to hardware maintenance issues and needed software upgrades this web application is no longer available on our website and is no longer being used by Clemson University. The reports you have requested have not been created by Clemson University and therefore there are no responsive records to produce. Clemson is not obligated to provide access to its databases under the FOIA.”
The university added in its response to The Tiger’s FOI request that it is currently working to create PDF versions of the grade distribution reports, and that those reports should be available to students and faculty within the next month.

The university’s full response is available below. 

The Tiger reached out to Jeremy King for comment but received no response.

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