The Emory College Faculty Senate voted on Dec. 2 to allow students to change the grading basis of one course this semester to pass-fail up until Dec. 16, the end of the final exam period.
The Senate also extended the deadline to change the grading basis of spring classes from the March 19 deadline to the last day of classes on May 3. These changes only apply to Emory College.
Students are still only allowed to take up to 20 credit hours pass-fail and may not count pass-fail grades toward general education requirements or major and minor requirements. The resolution cautions students to “carefully consider the implications of choosing S/U grading status, and the effect on progress towards graduation.”
The Senate also passed a second resolution that recommends faculty provide students a week of no assignments, exams or quizzes from March 15 to 19 in place of a spring break that the University canceled on Oct. 15. The resolution allows for synchronous lectures but advises faculty not to assign work outside class.
Their recommendation is nonbinding, however, and faculty may choose to disregard it.
While there was “high enthusiasm” in the Senate for having a week of no assignments, President of the College Faculty Senate Jen Heemstra said members did not vote to make it policy because of faculty concerns.
“One challenge that was raised was just that for many courses, it would be challenging to show up to a synchronous session not having done any sort of pre-reading assignments,” she said.
The resolution also recommends that faculty post drafts of their course syllabi to Course Atlas by Jan. 15, solicit student feedback mid-semester, and notify students of all quizzes, exams and assignments at least one week before the completion date.
“We will be communicating to faculty and department chairs over the next two weeks and … we are going to work to socialize [these] recommendations, explain the rationale for them and assist faculty in putting them into practice,” Dean of Emory College Michael Elliott told the Wheel.
The changes come after College Council (CC) President Aditya Jhaveri (21C) and Vice President Alex Koo (21C) sent a list of grievances and demands from 289 students to senior administrators on Nov. 17.
Jhaveri believes the Senate could always do more to accomodate students but he felt their recommendations were encouraging. In the future, he hopes they will involve students in the decision-making process.
“I also hope that conversations in general involve more student input so that decisions that are made or will be made are informed by students, rather than responding after students don’t agree or approve of decisions being made for semesters,” Jhaveri said.
Heemstra said “it would be difficult to make very specific recommendations” to faculty because of the diversity of the requirements for each class.
“We will communicate to the faculty that the spirit of the recommendation is to minimise out-of-class work, so we are hopeful that even if there is suggested or assigned reading before class, faculty won’t see it as an opportunity to create an overload of that,” Heemstra said.
Elliott said he believes that faculty will implement the week of no assignments.
“I will be endorsing the recommendation and working with chairs to ensure that faculty are aware of that and are putting it into practice,” Elliott said. “I think the faculty will do so, because first of all they also experience the stress and strain of this semester in their own ways,” he said.