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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Grading policy to be put to a vote

Students may see shorter waitlist lines for classes, as early as fall quarter of 2017, if Western’s faculty senate votes to approve a grade policy proposal on Monday, May 2.

The Academic Coordinating Commission presented a revised proposal to the faculty senate of Western after the previous proposal failed to pass in October of last year. The new policy would implement increased limitations on course repeats and allow for student grades to be replaced instead of averaged.

According to the current policy, students receiving a grade above a C- or a satisfactory grade in Fairhaven courses may not register to repeat the course until phase three of registration begins.

Students who register to repeat a course prior to phase three of registration may be required to drop the course by the academic department or the registrar’s office.

“Students now: they retake a course and the grade is averaged. We might consider changing that policy for grade replacement.”

Faculty senate member Mark Kuntz

Sophomore Erick Yanzon supports that the policy change will allow more students on the waitlist to get into their classes.

“I feel like with the fact that [Western is] letting other people who are waitlisted for [a] class to be able to get in — I’m more for that,” Yanzon said. “People [are] not graduating on time because they were held back with the waitlist and they were not able to take the class that they want with the time that they can.”

Under Western’s current policy, if a student were to repeat a course they have previously failed and pass the course on the second attempt, the two grades would both be recorded on the student’s transcript and affect their cumulative GPA.

The proposed grade policy would change this, allowing for the newest grade to replace the first attempt.

The faculty senate had disapproved the ACC’s proposal last October, forcing the commission to review and revise the proposal before the vote this May. Faculty senate member Mark Kuntz said a grade policy change has been up for discussion for some time.

“Students who have federal loans have requirements that they can not repeat a course more than once,”

Zachary Dove, Associated Students Vice President for Academic Affairs

“The ACC has been talking about grade replacement for a couple of years,” Kuntz said. “Students now: they retake a course and the grade is averaged. We might consider changing that policy for grade replacement.”

The faculty senate disapproved ACC’s initial proposal because they feared that students would try to repeat courses and put stress on waitlist lines, Kuntz said. The ACC voted for a proposal that restricts the number of times a student can repeat a course if they have passed it originally. This proposal, could allow better access for students to sign up for classes.

Zachary Dove, Associated Students Vice President for Academic Affairs, seat member in ACC and faculty senate, supports the policy but said ACC needed to compromise with the faculty senate and place a restriction on course repeats which was not in the original proposal.

Dove said the class repeat restriction is based off of the federal financial aid rules.

“Students who have federal loans have requirements that they can not repeat a course more than once,” Dove said.

Freshman Rocio Rivera agreed students receiving financial aid should have a restriction on the amount of courses they could repeat.

“I feel like you should [only] be able to retake a certain amount of classes, especially if you’re getting financial aid,” Rivera said. “You should kind of put some effort into your grades because you’re getting aid, and you’re getting paid to be doing well in school.”

Junior Olga Prado said the grade policy proposal affects her as a Washington Application for State Financial Aid recipient. WAFSA grants are given to students who are ineligible for financial aid due to immigration status. Prado said she is unsure how the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and WAFSA compare, but she thinks the grade replacement policy could affect WAFSA students differently. Prado is supportive of the policy proposal.

“I retook a course in my community college, and they changed the grade for the better one,” Prado said. “Personally, I liked that because you could just be having a bad quarter and you could replace it.”

Kuntz said most students assume when they retake a course, it will be replaced with the better grade. However, Kuntz said Western is unusual compared to other universities and averages a student’s repeated course grades. Many majors are competitive based on GPA and Kuntz believes students should have an equal chance to replace their grade.

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