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Commentary: An open letter to the faculty, A defense of the new WP/WF policy

By John Grunwell
chemistry and biochemistry

I wish to respond to Professor Nadler’s assertion that the Senate WP/WF policy will adversely affect the all university GPA. Let us examine the Miami Plan foundation courses taught in Professor Nadler’s department. These are COM 135 and 136 which were offered last spring (Jan.-May 2001). According to data supplied by the registrar, the grade distribution for the two courses is as follows:

COM 135: A 155; A- 130; A+ 5; B 128; B- 37; B+ 113; C 20; C- 6; C+ 12; D 4; D- 1; D+ 2; F 8; GPA 3.32

COM 136: A 68; A- 22; A+ 3; B 42; B- 8; B+ 27; C 4; C- 2; C+ 9; D 0; D- 0; D+ 0; F 0; GPA 3.43

Obviously, the GPA in COM 136 will not be changed by deleting the D’s and F’s since there were none. If the 15 people who ended up with D’s and F’s in COM 135 were deleted, the course GPA becomes 3.39. Thus, the GPA increased a paltry 0.07. This worst case scenario presumes all of the students who received grades less than C- would realize this and drop the course. As we know, some small number of students will fail the final examination and others who are getting a D may unrealistically assess their chances. If these two courses are typical of the Miami Plan, then it is obvious that the all university GPA will not change very much with the new policy which is far more just than the present policy or the policy proposed by the petitioners.

The petitioners had two Faculty Assembly meetings at which they could not muster a quorum. They had a mail ballot in which they could not muster a quorum of positive votes to reconsider Senate Resolution 01-04. How anyone can construe a non vote as a positive is beyond me. Only 185 voters out of a potential 768 voted to reconsider.

Senate is an elected body which is meant to represent the greatest possible cross section of opinion. The Senate policy passed by a large majority after extensive debate. We heard from the registrar and a university appeals committee. All arguments advanced by Professor Nadler and some others were considered. Senate does not agree with Professor Nadler and has refused to reopen debate at this time.

Date Published: 11/01/2001
Volume: 21   Number: 14

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