University of Tokyo student claims instructor failed him for missing class due to COVID

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University of Tokyo College of Arts and Sciences student Sota Sugiura during a press conference at the Ministry of Education in Tokyo on August 4, 2022. (Mainichi/Hiroshi Endo)

TOKYO — A University of Tokyo student has asked the institution to withdraw his failing grade in a required course, saying he failed after missing classes due to COVID-19.

Sota Sugiura, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Tokyo’s College of Arts and Sciences, filed a request for redress with the school’s harassment prevention committee, he revealed. He says he wants to go to medical school at the university and says that without the passing grade, he would have to repeat.

According to Sugiura, who held a press conference at the Ministry of Education on August 4, he fell ill on May 17 this year after contracting the coronavirus. He had a fever of at least 39 degrees Celsius, difficulty breathing and fatigue, and tried to recuperate at home. Since he lives alone, there was no one else to take care of him, and all the while he felt dizzy from COVID-19.

Due to illness, Sugiura missed two sessions of the “Introduction to Life Science Experiments Course,” which includes a total of six sessions, on May 17 and 24. He emailed his instructor on May 25 to explain the reasons for his absence. , but he did not get a remedial course for the May 17 session. This was allegedly due to Sugiura not following the instructor’s rule that a student must submit a notice of absence by 11 a.m. on the day of the class they will be missing. Sugiura also claims that the instructor refused to accept a sick note from his doctor. He received his report card in June and learned that he had failed the course.

When Sugiura objected to the university, he was apparently told that he had not received the credits due to his “performance in the course, regardless of questions about responding to absences due to coronavirus”. At the same time, his grade for the experimental course was reissued and Sugiura claims that 17 points were removed from the initial grade published earlier. He asks the university to explain this reduced mark.

Sugiura told reporters at the press conference, “Unless the aid is given, I will have to repeat a year and I won’t be able to study medicine. I ask the university to react with flexibility to avoid this serious loss of opportunities.

Meanwhile, the University of Tokyo’s College of Arts and Sciences told the Mainichi Shimbun that the student’s failing grade was not the result of his absence on May 17, but his performance grade. overall, including papers that did not reach the 50 point mark, the lowest score required to pass the course. The ministry said: “We believe the classification was appropriate.”

Asked about the downgraded score on the student’s report card, the department said there was a mix-up between his score for the May 17 class and that of another student. He said Sugiura was graded higher than he should have been and the latest report card showed his corrected grade.

(Japanese original by Hiroshi Endo, Tokyo City News Department)

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