Senate expected to vote on plus/minus today

Lindsey Reed

The petition against the plus/minus grading system has more than 1,500 signatures, and Student Government Association is ready to rally.

But the system’s supporters are ready to defend their cause.

The University Senate is expected to vote on the plus/minus grading system during its meeting at 3:30 p.m. today in Garrett Ballroom.

A student rally against the system is planned for 2:30 p.m. outside of the ballroom.

In Tuesday’s SGA meeting, President John Bradley told students that they could have an impact on the outcome of the proposal.

“This is our chance to tell them that we don’t want this,” he said. “Let them know we mean business, and we will not accept this proposal, period.”

Bradley said that there will be free food and music at the rally.

Economics professor Brian Strow, who proposed the system in October, said he still stands by the merits of plus/minus.

“It increases grading accuracy and fairness, and it will encourage students to finish the semester,” he said.

Strow said the student rally would not change his position.

Sharon Mutter, a psychology professor and senate member, said she has not yet decided on how she will be voting.

Mutter has been reading all of the information students are sending and is talking with students in her own classes, she said.

She said she studied how the grades in her intro and cognitive psychology classes would be affected if the plus/minus grades were applied.

The pluses and minuses helped about as many as it hurt, she said.

“My data corresponds with what I’ve read,” she said.

Mutter said one of the biggest issues in adopting a new grading system is determining if it would be widely used and done in the same way among faculty.

“If we do this, there has to be consistency in the way the grades are converted,” she said. “Either we use it, or we don’t.”

Bradley said if the most recent proposed grading system passes, SGA will continue their efforts against it.

“We will take all of our efforts to the administrators,” he said.

John All, a geography and geology assistant professor and senate member, said it is difficult to talk to students about the plus/minus grading system because they haven’t experienced its effects.

“My main concern is to talk to professors about their experiences at other universities,” he said.

All said he is not sure how he will vote for the current proposal.

“My job is to represent my department,” he said.

All said he thinks the student rally is the wrong approach to oppose the change.

“The students are hurting their cause by such things,” he said.

Efforts from students to oppose the change have not been well reasoned, he said.

“It indicates that student learning is not where it should be,” he said.

All said the student rally would not influence his vote because students will only be here a few more years, unlike faculty.

“We’re here for 30 years, and we have to deal with the long-term effects,” he said. “You’ve got to look at the big picture.”

Lee Emanuel, an assistant math professor at the community college, signed the petition against plus/minus grading but said it probably wasn’t the best decision.

“It was a spontaneous thing rather than a thought-out response,” Emanuel said.

The idea behind the proposal has some validity, he said.

Jackson junior Josh Collins, a senate member, said the proposal has problems with the reasoning behind it.

“I think they’re trying to use the plus/minus system to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” he said.

“I think it’s very hazardous to alter GPAs at this university with such a diverse body.”

Matt Pruitt, an associate sociology professor and senate member, said his intention is to vote down the motion so an ad hoc committee can form and make a recommendation for the senate.

“I want more time to digest the information,” Pruitt said.

Louisville senior Troy Ransdell, a senate member, said the proposal’s major argument is flawed.

He said it is not proven through research that students work harder under the system.

Evidence showing that GPAs won’t be affected by a plus/minus grading scale suggests that students aren’t working any harder, Ransdell said.

The senate members will have a chance to talk the issue out.

“I’m not going to cut off debate until everyone is heard from,” senate Chair Doug Smith said.

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected]