Teaching is a tricky business, especially when you face diverse student body. For core classes, you don’t have much choice—you have to water down the content, because of student teaching evaluation. For electives, you need to screen the students so that only true fans will take. Then you will have an easy ride.
Regardless, you must strike a balance between rigor and likability. Too strict, you turn them away; too loose, they won’t work. You must understand learning is a two-way process, and not every student is willing/able to learn, because that takes intelligence and effort.
I had hard time to deal with undergrads. Removing the final is a mistake. Without accountability, lazy ones have all the reason to be lazy.
I will have the final for all the classes I teach—we are all accountable for our actions.