The 2014 Academic Senate | Mustang News File Photo

Credit/no credit classes may be more difficult for students to pass if a resolution from the Academic Senate is approved. The resolution was discussed at the Senate’s April 12 meeting, but was tabled until its next meeting on May 3.

If passed, the resolution would raise the passing grade for a credit/no credit course from a C- to a C and would take effect starting Fall 2016.

The debate in the Academic Senate is that technically a student could take 12 units of credit/no credit courses in one quarter. If that student received a C- in each of those classes, they would get credit for all of them. However, that student would immediately be placed on academic probation because they would have a 1.7 term grade point average.

“A lot of professors are saying that we essentially passed this 13 years ago,” Academic Senate Chair Gary Laver said. “In re-thinking the logic, we should not allow a 1.7 because that is not good enough.”

At the Academic Senate meeting April 12, Laver had the first reading of the proposed resolution. Due to the time sensitivity of this resolution, Laver entertained moving it to a second reading. In different circumstances, the resolution would be set aside after the first reading and then debated at the next Senate meeting. After a second reading, Laver allowed comments from those in attendance.

“In order to meet the registrar’s deadline and get it done before fall, we need this all to happen now,” Laver said before the meeting.

However, the resolution was not voted on and was instead tabled for another meeting.

Meeting attendees said that because the registrar has to make the final decision, they did not need to vote on it today. The next steps on the resolution will be discussed at further Senate meetings.

The resolution’s terms

A resolution similar to the one discussed April 12, was approved in 2003, according to Laver.

“When the formal document was passed in 2003 and sent to the president, there was no action,” Laver said. “The Academic Senate discovered for a small period of time in 2003 there was a small subset of resolutions that never reached the final stage of the process.”

Therefore, it was never implemented by the registrar, who didn’t want to take any action without going through all the formal steps in the process, Laver said.

It has been brought up again 13 years later because of the executive order from the Chancellor’s Office. One of the elements of this order requires that students get a C or higher in order to receive credit for a general education (GE) class for sections A1, A2, A3 and B1.

The registrar suggested a resolution to cover those four GE areas; however, the executive committee in the Academic Senate did not want to approve that. Instead, the committee came up with a new resolution that incorporated portions of the 2003 resolution. Specifically, the “resolved” portion that includes: “That undergraduate students be permitted to take up to 12 units of courses CR/NC in accord with the following specifications:ƒ CR requires the student earn a C or higher.”

“The resolution that the executive committee came up with now will fix the disparity between the current Cal Poly policy and the executive order that made the change,” Laver said. “While it casts a broader net than necessary by covering all classes that a student could take C/NC, we will fix the GE problem and the minimum grade you need to get credit.”

Cal Poly’s current rule on credit/no credit is that a student must get a C- or better in order to receive four units of credit and the completion of the GE section. However, if the registrar implements the executive order, a student would only receive four units of credit toward graduation but not GE credit for classes taken credit/no credit in GE areas A1, A2, A3 and B1 with a C-. If the executive committee approves its resolution, students would need to earn a C or better to get GE credit. 

“If you were to take an A1 class credit/no credit and get a C- next fall or forward, you would not get the GE box checked,” Laver said. “You would have to take the class again to get A1 credit with a C or better.”

According to the Registrar’s Office, only 13 students have received a C- in a credit/no credit class since 2011.

Student opposition

Associate Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors Vice Chair and agricultural sciences junior Jana Colombini is opposed to the resolution.

“I think it is kind of unfair for students because a lot of people do have classes they are planning on taking credit/no credit, so this could inhibit their academic success in some ways,” Colombini said. “It’s a matter that by having the credit/no credit option, it allows them to take classes outside of their required courses in order to expand their education.”

In an emailed statement to Mustang News, Justin Rajah — ASI Board of Directors representative and business administration junior — also disagrees with the resolution.

If Academic Senate passes the resolution on credit/no credit grading I think it will negatively affect students by dissuading us from taking extra courses just for the sake of learning,” Rajah said in the email. “Rather than thinking that students take courses credit/no credit as a mean to slack off, on the contrary, they allow us to broaden our knowledge. Isn’t that what college is all about?”

What’s next

While there is a large debate on the difference between a C and C-, this is an issue that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible, Laver said. 

“While the philosophy between a C and a C- is a perfectly legitimate pedagogical conversation, it is not what prompted the debate,” Laver said. “It can be saved for future discussion because the resolution now has a huge practical component to it and is very focused on what to do with this executive order.”

If the resolution passes, Laver wants to ensure that students are well-informed of the policy change.

“We need to make sure that the instructors teaching the affected courses let students know well beforehand,” Laver said. “Students can only get four units of credit and GE credit in a credit/no credit credit with a C or higher, so that kind of communication is critical.”

The Academic Senate’s next meeting is May 3.

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