Ever since I read Panda Bear’s post about the futility of student governance in med school, I’ve been dying to write a rebuttal. I graduated from a university where student self-governance was practically a founding principle, like liberty in the Declaration of Independence. I had plenty of examples of students effecting change in undergrad, but med school’s a very different system, so I decided to hold off until I had a more concrete success than “They modify lectures based on student feedback after each block.”
You see, since about January, there have been rumblings of eliminating Honors from the second-year grading scheme. (We are pass/fail for first year, H/P/F for second, and actual grades for third and fourth.) We all felt honors was a carrot of competition they held in front of us, creating extra short-term stress with little long-term yield — “everyone knows” residency directors don’t really care about grades in the pre-clinical years. Anecdotally, there’s also a lot of faculty support for the change. There is a big curriculum reorganization in the offing, and the Big People already decided to make the preclinical months honors-free. So why not for us?
A couple of weeks ago, we had a curriculum survey of the entire first year. On the question of honors, almost 80% of the class voted to remove it and go to a straight P/F system. In light of that result, we had an open meeting with the dean of students and the curriculum committee chair. It was remarkably well-attended, much better than lectures for sure. I got the impression that Dr. D, the chair of the curriculum committee and kind of an old-school guy, was very pro-honors and that he would be the one we’d have to win over if we wanted this change to occur.
After the meeting and question/answer session, we took another survey, which revealed that 86% of the class wanted to remove honors from the system. The results were presented at the curriculum committee meeting this morning, after which we received an email informing us that second-year, like first, would now be pass/fail.
So you see, the administration, at least at this august institution, can and does listen to student input.
Now, if we can just convince them to waive our tuition….