I must say that I enjoy following The Michigan Daily from afar. While I was an undergrad at the University studying in South America and North Africa, and while currently living and working in the Middle East, I fondly look toward the Daily as a window into my salad days in Ann Arbor. However, I was quite frustrated and worried by your article (The Grading Gap: Analyzing the disparities in grade distributions, 3/22/2011).

I understand the need for catchy titles and subjects that capture the attention of the student body. However, it’s important that the Daily doesn’t lead the reader or act as a tabloid. It’s clear that in “The Grading Gap” the intention was one of “Hey reader, come see the hard hitting truth about grades at Michigan!” The article claimed to show which majors were “easiest” and “hardest.” However, from the outset, this was flawed. The article and graphics (which I believe were added later on the website after publishing) claim that the criteria for “hard and easy” was based on average GPA of a major. This is inherently incorrect, and the article itself acknowledges this when the writer states “But grades aren’t always an indicator of the ease or difficulty of a class.” The article continuously stumbles over itself, caught between the tabloid-esque vision of outing the “easiest” courses and acknowledging the truth: The difficulty of a course or major is not solely linked to the average GPA of it’s students, and there are much greater variables at play.

This article had great potential. It is a fantastic idea to explore which classes and majors are the easiest. This would have made for a great piece of research and journalism. Yet, this would have taken work. The writer, or team of journalists, would have had to delve deeper into investigating course loads, time spent on course work on average, relevance of a class to the participant’s major, average grades for similar majors at various universities, etc. Additionally, I believe it would have been of interest to many students to discuss the “difficulty,” even if solely based on average GPAs, of popular majors such as political science, English, anthropology, history and a wide array of LSA departments. While this would have been the proper way to go about creating a well crafted and thoughtful article, the type that the Daily and it’s numerous Pulitzer Prize-winning alumni are known for, it appears that the paper took the “easy” way out.

I am no writer. In fact my grasp of the English language is loosening every day. I never worked on the Daily staff, and I graduated with a GPA that, according to this article, would either make my major extremely hard or make me somewhat of an underachiever (I don’t know which is true). However, I do have great pride and respect for an institution such as the Daily, and I view it as an important and tangible symbol of the University at large. For these reasons, I hope that the editors and journalists who allowed this piece to go to publishing will take more care to represent themselves, the University, the students and the Daily in a way that fits with it’s great history and future.

Gabriel Luis Manga is a University alum.

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