Following months of discussion and editing, the Recording Committee will introduce a revised version of the College's Credit/D/Fail policy at Monday's faculty meeting for discussion. Faculty will then wait until the fall semester to make further changes and vote on a final policy.
The major proposed change to the current policy is that students would be able to set a lowest acceptable grade to earn while taking a course, which they would receive instead of "credit" if achieved. Students would have two weeks at the start of the semester to set this grade level.
The proposed Grade/Credit/D/Fail policy contains input from students, faculty, and staff, elements from the plan suggested by Bowdoin Student Government, and ideas from the Recording Committee.
"There are some controversial points, but we as a committee forced ourselves to realize that what we send forward is not the final word?that's going to come from the faculty," said Chair of the Recording Committee James McCalla. "They'll have to decide if they'll take it as it stands now, if they'll change it, or if it will be voted up or down."
At Monday's faculty meeting, the proposal will be brought forth for discussion, and members of the Recording Committee will be in attendance to answer any specific questions or make comments. Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Nancy Jennings said that the meeting will be used as a sort of information session to introduce the proposal.
McCalla stressed the fact that the Recording Committee could not reach consensus about all the points to include or change in the policy, so he expects faculty to discuss revisions. Faculty will then wait until another meeting early in the fall 2007 semester to suggest further edits and, ultimately, vote on a policy.
Should the policy pass, Jennings said the faculty could vote to decide when to implement it, potentially in the spring or fall 2008 semester. Currently, the proposal also includes a stipulation that the Grade/Credit/D/Fail policy will be re-evaluated after one year, at which point the faculty could abandon or revise the policy.
Sam Dinning '09 and Casey Dlott '07 serve as student members on the Recording Committee and have been active participants in, and advocates for, the policy's changes. Both said they were very excited by the changes that came forth from campus-wide discussions.
"The best part about the process is that they really took something that students cared about and ran with it. They really took the time to make sure it got addressed thoroughly," Dinning said. "I see this policy as an opportunity to give students the chance to experiment in areas they're not familiar with, but also to give them the chance to earn the grade they deserve if they're good at it."
"I'm really excited about it, I think it's a huge jump for students and the Credit/D/Fail policy," Dlott said. "It's really great that students will get this chance to explore, and still be rewarded if they do well. I've been really pleased with everything in the process."
Jennings said that the policy is an attempt to find a balance between students who want to take courses without the fear of a low grade, and professors who want students to explore new topics and remain engaged in class. She said it is not an issue of students supporting a lax policy versus faculty supporting a stringent one, but rather, a balance between different perspectives of what a Grade/Credit/D/Fail policy should look like.
"Every so often, all sorts of things come up about grades, and there are always healthy debates," Jennings said. "This is our work, and what affects the faculty is taken seriously?they do discuss it."
McCalla reiterated that the discussion has been an ongoing and complicated debate, but that this policy may create a resolution.
"Since its inception, this policy has really been a result of queries and comments from across the College," he said. "This was not something necessarily dreamed up ourselves. It's off our desk. We've done what we're supposed to do, the faculty will do what they want to, and I'm sure it will be treated very seriously by the faculty and staff."
As the discussions continue, Dinning said he hopes faculty will approve of the policy and recognize its benefits.
"I'm always for more student voice; I think student opinion is as important as any opinion on campus," he said. "I'd love it if faculty talked about this with their advisees, classes, and students they know. Communication is going to be key in making this the best possible plan for students, faculty, and staff."