SU Passes 3 Academic ResolutionsWednesday
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Student Union Senate, senators voted on several resolutions that have the potential to greatly improve the academic lives of many members of the student body.
Jeffrey Lancaster, a senator on the Academic Affairs Committee, presented three separate resolutions which focused on providing what he believes would be fairer policies for class registration and grading. In particular, the resolutions dealt with policies regarding students who choose to take a class pass/fail and those who wish to withdraw from a class more than twelve weeks after classes began.
All three resolutions were passed. Though these resolutions are in no way binding on university policy, Lancaster believes that they will likely go into effect relatively soon, because many deans and professors had agreed with the changes, he said.
Extending the Pass/Fail to Credit Deadline
The first resolution in the group would extend the deadline for when a student taking a class pass/fail would be able to switch to credit. Whereas the date for making this switch is currently twelve weeks after the start of classes, the resolution would extend this date until the last formal day of class. The resolution explained that students would be more likely to work hard in a class if they felt that they could choose to receive a letter grade depending on how well they were doing in the class.
In his presentation of the resolutions, Lancaster showed information from a survey taken by Mike Stewart, former SU senator who had originally started the discussion on this issue last semester. The survey asked almost 300 WU undergraduates their views on the proposed issues. Based on this survey, 83 percent of those interviewed said that the deadline should be extended. About 16 percent said that the date should be kept at the same time; however, not a single person expressed that this date should be brought forward.
During the Senate’s debate of the resolution, some brought up the possibility of students taking advantage of this system by taking all classes pass/fail and then simply switching the classes in which they had the highest grades to credit. This is very unlikely however, as students are only allowed to take one class as pass/fail in any given semester. Though a bug in the WebStac system allows students to sign up for more than one as pass/fail, they will be informed to fix the problem by the registrar. If a student does not change his or her schedule, then all classes that had previously been taken as pass/fail would be changed to credit.
Promoting Equality Among Credit and Pass/Fail Students
The second resolution in the group intended to promote equality among students taking classes for credit and those taking classes pass/fail. Currently, professors receive a sheet at the beginning of each semester with each student’s name, picture, and grading option. The resolution recommended that the grading option no longer be included with this sheet. Senators argued that professors tended to give more time and attention to those students who were taking a class for credit.
Under this resolution, each professor could still determine the minimum grade needed to receive a “pass” for any particular class. However, the professor would give every student a letter grade for the class, and the registrar would then assign the appropriate credit option accordingly.
Extending the Withdrawal Deadline
The final resolution focused on extending the deadline for withdrawing from a class. Now the deadline for doing so is at twelve weeks after the start of the semester. As with the first resolution, it would be extended to the last formal day of class.
Withdrawing from a class requires the approval of a dean, as well as from the professor of the class. If either of these individuals denies the request, then that student is unable to withdraw. The resolution called to eliminate this arbitrary standard and simply let students choose to withdraw over WebStac, still receiving a “W” on their transcript as they have in the past.
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