UPDATE: UGA prof drops ‘stress reduction policy’ after backlash

Anthony Gockowski
Contributing Editor/Investigative Reporter

  • The University of Georgia has made Professor Richard Watson remove a “stress reduction policy” from two of his course syllabi after facing national backlash for the practice.
  • A university spokesperson confirmed that the language has been removed, noting that UGA has a policy "that mandates all faculty employ a grading system based on transparent and pre-defined coursework.”
  • The University of Georgia has made Professor Richard Watson remove a “stress reduction policy” from two of his course syllabi after facing national backlash for the practice.

    As Campus Reform reported Monday, Watson had adopted a policy that would allow students who felt “unduly stressed by a grade for any assessable material or the overall course” to “email the instructor indicating what grade [they] think is appropriate, and it will be so changed” with “no explanation” required.

    "[UGA]...mandates all faculty employ a grading system based on transparent and pre-defined coursework."   

    [RELATED: Students retreat to ‘stress-free zone’ for cocoa, corn hole]

    “If in a group meeting, you feel stressed by your group’s dynamics, you should leave the meeting immediately and need offer no explanation to the group members,” the policy added, saying such students could “discontinue all further group work” with their remaining grade being “based totally on non-group work.”

    The policy was later scrubbed from both syllabi, though an archived version remains, and the university has since confirmed with Campus Reform that Watson did in fact remove the policy after media coverage.

    “The professor has removed this language from the syllabus,” Executive Director of Media Communications Greg Trevor told Campus Reform. “In addition, the University of Georgia applies very high standards in its curricular delivery, including a university-wide policy that mandates all faculty employ a grading system based on transparent and pre-defined coursework.”

    UPDATE: Terry College of Business Dean Benjamin Ayers has since released a statement on the matter, calling Watson's policy "an ill-advised proposal" that "will not be implemented in any Terry classroom."

    "The syllabus stated that his grading policy would allow students inappropriate input into the assignment of their own grades. I want you to know that the syllabus did not conform with the university's rigorous expectations and policy regarding academic standards for grading," Ayers added, noting that he has "explained this discrepancy to the professor" who "has removed the statement from his syllabus." 

    "Rest assured that this ill-advised proposal will not be implemented in any Terry classroom," he concluded. "The University of Georgia upholds strict guidelines and academic policies to promote a culture of academic rigor, integrity, and honesty." 

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    Anthony Gockowski

    Anthony Gockowski

    Contributing Editor/Investigative Reporter

    Anthony Gockowski is the Contributing Editor and an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. He previously worked for The Daily Caller, Intercollegiate Review, The Catholic Spirit, and The College Fix. In 2015, he was named a fellow for the Student Free Press Association. His reporting is regularly featured on Drudge Report, Fox News, National Review, and more.

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