UW professor appears to retaliate against policy violation


A UW math professor, David Wagner, recently appeared to retaliate after being warned that his introduction of an assignment not listed on the original syllabus could be deemed as “grounds for a grievance.”

Logan Batson, the MathSociety vice president academic, explained via email that according to students in the class, Wagner had added a “last-minute” additional assignment that was not on the syllabus. He posted on Piazza about the release of one assignment, and announced the new assignment at the same time with no indication he was going to do so.

Batson emailed Wagner on November 20 informing him that the action was grounds for a grievance due to its violation of the university’s policy 70 section 4 b. iii, which states that a student is able to submit a grievance based on “an error or injustice on grounds other than the academic judgement of work,” including an instructor “[deviating] substantially from the course outline without reasonable notice.”

Wagner responded to Batson’s email stating that there would be no additional assignment, but that the material would be included on the final exam.

Several hours later, Wagner posted on Piazza confirming that material from the last week of the course would be included on the exam, but that students would not receive feedback on solutions to similar problems, saying that students can “thank some anonymous whining slacker for that.” Wagner continued by saying that the additional assignment would not be counted towards course requirements and would not be graded.

The Piazza post is visible on the r/uwaterloo subreddit with nearly 350 upvotes.

Batson stated that Wagner’s reaction was “quite baffling,” citing the fact that he had Wagner previously as a professor and that he seemed to be “nice about the structure of the courses.”

“Reacting to the fact that they were breaking policy by name calling students is a little upsetting to see,” Batson wrote.

In response to request for comment, Wagner said via email that he wanted an additional assignment to give students practice with the material from the last week, and that after receiving the complaint that it “contravened some regulation,” he cancelled the assignment. “That’s all there is to it, from my point of view,” he wrote.

Cecilia Dean, Associate Dean for the Faculty of Mathematics, told Imprint via email that “[n]o formal grievance was filed in response to the posting of the new assignment. After this issue was brought to our attention, Prof. Wagner was reminded about policy and the importance of being professional in all forms of communication.”