Committee for academic quality should stay

Last semester, many students, faculty and administrators debated whether Western should have a plus/minus grading system.

After much debate, the proposal was tabled to give more time for an ad hoc committee for academic quality to study the issue at length before it officially votes on the proposal to change the grading system next month.

If the University Senate makes changes to this charter, however, this committee might continue long after the dust of plus/minus grading is settled. As one of eight proposed changes, University Senate is considering making the committee permanent. Senate chair Doug Smith said having a permanent committee will make it easier to monitor the changes it recommends.

The changes this committee recommends are things that will impact every student who decides to take a class on the Hill. Besides the plus/minus grading system, the committee is also discussing Western’s add/drop policy and advising procedures – things that Western students deal with daily.

The grading system issue will be settled in a few weeks, but there will undoubtedly be other issues the senate will have to wrestle with in the future. Although it would be nice if every senate member had enough time to research extensively on every issue to make an informed decision, the reality is that members have other things to deal with. A standing committee that will tackle academic issues exclusively will be able to research extensively on a topic and provide members with enough information to make good decisions.

The reason the plus/minus grading system was sent to a committee was because senate members felt it was fair to spend more time really examining the issue. By making this committee permanent, it promotes an attitude of taking time to look at issues and being informed rather than being fueled by emotions.

Academic quality is always going to be an issue on this campus. As long as there are budget cuts, new faculty and new innovations, such a committee will always be needed. This university’s first responsibility is to ensure a quality education for all students. The permanence of any committee that attempts to improve or maintain academic standards should be something the senate should approve without hesitation.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 9-member board of student editors.