Last December, the University of Winnipeg (U of W) senate passed a motion allowing students to choose alternate grading options for the fall 2020 term. Originally proposed by the U of W Students’ Association (UWSA), the motion is intended to support students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Shawna Peloquin, the UWSA president.
“I am confident it is a positive move for students,” she says in an email to The Uniter, though she mentions the plan isn’t perfect.
According to the U of W website, two options are available to students who do not want some or all of their fall 2020 grades to affect their grade point average (GPA). The first option allows students to exempt marks from their GPA. However, the grade will still remain on the student’s transcript.
The second option allows students to display “standing” (for a passing grade) or “F” (for a failing grade) on their transcripts in lieu of letter grades. A standing mark will not affect their GPA.
Students who decide to exercise one of these options should familiarize themselves with departmental regulations, degree requirements and policies at other post-secondary institutions they wish to attend in the future. Requests to use alternate grading options must be submitted by Feb. 12.
According to Peloquin, the UWSA was intimately involved in advocating for these alternate grading options.
“The UWSA, with the support and guidance of faculty members, brought forward a revised version of the alternate grading option motion (approved) last spring to the Dec. 22 senate meeting for approval,” she says.
Peloquin points to a petition on change.org with over 8,000 signatures calling for improvements “to the deliverance method, course material and student care” at the U of W and University of Manitoba as one of the reasons she was compelled to act on this issue.
Khalil Qasem, president of the Business Administration Students’ Association, says the U of W’s implementation of this alternate grading policy is a “generally positive” step.
“(They’ve) provided students with fair information,” he says.
“They’re also maintaining a specific standard, saying that prerequisites are prerequisites, which is generally fair,” Qasem says. He believes maintaining academic integrity is important to post-secondary institutions like the U of W.
However, as Qasem points out, “a lot of the concerns that students have don’t necessarily have anything to do with the pivoting (from in-person to online classes) because of COVID-19.”
One such concern is the job market after graduation. One way students can improve their future prospects, Qasem says, is by participating in extracurricular activities at the U of W.
“There are a lot of opportunities at the U of W that go unfilled or unnoticed that employers look for,” he says.
The UWSA or the U of W have yet to announce a similar proposal for the winter 2021 term.
For more information on alternate grading options for fall 2020, visit theuwsa.ca/2020/12/alternate-grading-fall2020.
Published in Volume 75, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 27, 2021)