Faculty Senate +/-

After nearly two years of deliberation and revision, the proposed plus/minus grading policy did not pass after a final vote among the Faculty Senate. The policy would have applied to both undergraduate and graduate students at BGSU.

With 21 senators in support, 47 opposed and one abstained at Tuesday’s assembly, the policy — which has been a controversial topic among students and staff — will not be initiated by the university and will not be sent to President Rodney Rogers’ cabinet.

If the policy was passed, it would have given professors the option to apply revised GPA values to students’ grades. According to the policy proposal, a B+ would count as a 3.3 GPA but a B- would be a 2.7. Additionally, an A- in a course would count as a 3.7 GPA, not a 4.0.

Prior to the final vote, Peter Blass, a professor of chemistry, proposed that an A+ should be added to the plus/minus scale. A vote for the amendment did not pass.

In an opening statement, Undergraduate Student Government Senator Alex Chiarelott spoke in opposition of the policy.

“This optional policy will unbalance the playing field for GPA and scholarships and put some students at an advantage based on what scale their professors they’re grading by … (It) will enable and encourage student confusion,” he said. 

He referenced two surveys USG conducted in the past, including one presented at a public forum on the issue last month.

“Both surveys indicated 85% of students do not support the plus/minus grading scale … We were the number one public university in Ohio for student satisfaction. Do we want to pass a policy 85% of students disagree with?” Chiarelott said.

In deliberation, Allen Rogel, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy, stated that he, as well as his department, supported the policy.

“Over the physics department faculty, it was viewed as a net positive for students … The refined grading scale allows us to more accurately represent the ability of the student than does the current system,” he said. “An 81(%) to an 89(%) is a considerable different performance range to know 80% of the material versus 90% of the material, and there’s no way to differentiate that in the current system.”

Carol Heckman, a professor in biological sciences, stated that the policy would create an additional grading concern for students.

“Some students are already obsessed with grades rather than learning,” she said.

Following the vote, Rogel addressed his concern regarding the policy’s absence of an “ATN” grade, which a student would receive if they did not attend class or turn in school work during the semester.

“My concern is that information about the ATN grade, which is required by federal law for financial aid purposes, seems to be lacking,” he said.

There was no further vote to amend Rogel’s concern.

After the assembly, USG President Marcus Goolsby expressed relief on the outcome of the policy.

“This has been a process that’s taken multiple years throughout my time in USG, and I’m just glad to see it resolved one way or the other before I graduate,” he said. “I’m also really happy that the body took the undergraduate student voice very seriously in their vote.”

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