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MSU students ask university to bring back satisfactory/ not satisfactory grading option

Posted at 7:52 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 11:01:25-05

EAST LANSING, Mich. — With final exams approaching for the fall semester, students are asking Michigan State University to bring back the satisfactory/ not satisfactory grading option.

"I think it's only reasonable for the university to kind of have binary grading, so that the hardships of everything that have happened over the semester, do not reflect on a student's GPA," said senior, Nikunj Agarwal.

Agarwal is an environmental economics and management major. He created a petition calling for the university to reintroduce the satisfactory/ not satisfactory grades, which allow students to worry less about how a class is going to affect their GPA.

"Your GPA in today's world kind of defines you as your quantities and everything you have as a person, but I don't think that this time should actually define that," he said.

The idea for the petition came from a proposal made to the University Council on Undergraduate Affairs by Joice Meier, associate director of the First-Year Writing Program.

She and other professors have noticed an unusually high number of absences and missing coursework.

"Students might be having some motivational issues," she said. "I know some of our students have financial issues. I know we're still not out of the woods with COVID yet, so students are still getting sick with COVID."

The petition has over 6,000 signatures. Students said in the comments that between classes and the pandemic, it's a struggle.

Josh Belcher, is one of the MSU students who signed the petition.

"Taking lockdown browsers for exams, and students not being able to engage into that different area of learning in college, I feel like we can all agree that we are being rushed," he said.

The satisfactory not satisfactory grading option was introduced in the spring of 2020 in an acknowledgment of the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Students were notified before this semester that the option was no longer available.

MSU spokesperson Dan Olsen said the university asked its academic governance system to consider the students' request earlier in the semester and more recently put the issues to the Council of Undergraduate Education Deans and again to the academic governance system. Both bodies recommended denying the request, he said.

"The ultimate decision was that no, we need to provide students with the structure going in that they understand, you know, what the grading scale will be for the semester," he said, "and to change that up halfway through the semester at the end of the semester would not be beneficial towards their students success and persistence."

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