Board Shorts — January 15, 2020

The Board discusses the pass/credit/no credit grading system

Image: Irene Lo

Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer 

The Board takes action to reform the temporary pass/credit/no credit grading system

SFU administration recently announced that they are introducing a new, temporary pilot grading system: pass/credit/no credit (P/CR/NC) for the Spring 2021, Summer 2021, and Fall 2021 semesters. University Registrar and Executive Director, Student Enrolment pro tem Kathryn Verkerk noted in her email to students that while not all details had been finalized yet, they are aiming to give students autonomy over which courses they want to use this grading scheme for up to 12 units. However, students are limited to choosing program electives and not required courses. 

The SFSS Board discussed that they felt this system was flawed. Student senate members had introduced a motion to “reinstate the original pass/fail grading scheme that was used as an emergency response to the emerging coronavirus pandemic back in March 2020,” as noted by VP University Relations Gabe Liosis. He said that “Since then students have been calling on SFU to bring back this grading scheme [ . . . ] up until about a few weeks ago these calls were largely unheard. And so a motion was put forward to senate by students senators to try and bring it back.”

Liosis noted that the SFSS Board has heard feedback from students that the grading system only being available for electives may present some problems for students. “There are a lot of questionable components to this new grading scheme that are really frankly confusing and will present logistical issues going forward,” said Liosis. 

VP Finance Corbett Gildersleve questioned whether this system will be applicable for students in general studies programs or students with undeclared majors. Liosis added that this may also present a variety of issues for students that will use this grading system and then potentially change their majors in the future as using that option for an elective may now become a prerequisite.

The system works by having students request alternative grading prior to the last day of class. At that point they are assigned either a pass, credit or no credit. 

System breakdown:

  • Pass is where credit is awarded but CGPA is not affected for a grade that would otherwise be above a C-
  • “Credit” allows credit to be awarded and CGPA still is not affected for a grade that would otherwise be below a D. However, students may not use courses with a “credit” grade as a prerequisite for other classes. 
  • The “no credit” option is awarded to students who have failed the class but it does not affect their CGPA.

Liosis noted that while at the Senate meeting, SFSS Chair Osob Mohamed “attempted to move an amendment to expand the scope of the grading scheme to all courses not just elective courses, however, that amendment failed.”

This prompted Liosis to bring forth a motion to the SFSS Board to direct all faculty representatives to speak with their respective faculties about the current grading system. He reported that in the memo discussed at the Senate meeting, it was indicated that each program is permitted to “expand the scope of the grading scheme within their program.” 

“What I believe is an important next step is working with individual departments and faculties to try and do this at a much smaller level because clearly it did not work at the institutional level,” said Liosis. 

The Board voted unanimously to call on individuals departments to encourage expansion of the P/CR/NC grading system. 

The Board received a presentation from MeaningfulWork

CEO of MeaningfulWork, Raaj Chatterjee, discussed the potential for the SFSS to use their tech systems. MeaningfulWork is an online platform supported by the SFU Coast Capital Saving Venture Connection that “matches skilled corporate employees with nonprofits and charities for volunteering.” 

According to Chatterjee, it is difficult for students to get involved with campus clubs and it is time-consuming for clubs to recruit the right people for their initiatives. He told the SFSS Board that their program can aid students in figuring out their goals and career paths.

Their platform works by having students register with their information and interests. Clubs also register with the website and outline what positions they are currently looking to fill. “The idea for this hub is to match students to club opportunities that align with their skills and their passions,” said Chatterjee.

Chatterjee noted that MeaningfulWork has done a beta project with over 10 clubs at SFU to test the website and they are hoping to work with the SFSS to expand the scope of their Opportunities Hub at SFU. 

The Board asked MeaningfulWork to develop a formal proposal to be considered at a later date.