On September 24, the Senate of York held its first meeting of the 2020-21 school year, conducted entirely online due to COVID-19 protocols. Several motions were discussed, including the new Policy on York University Grading Schemes, which would welcome the four-point grading scale to York.
“Senate is now being held via Zoom, but attendance and participation seem to be good,” says Dr. Chloë Brushwood-Rose, chair of the Senate’s Academic Standards, Curriculum and Pedagogy Committee (ASCP).
The meeting began with a review of several updates by President Rhonda Lenton. Lenton expressed her appreciation of members who had contributed to anti-racism efforts, including the development of an Anti-Black Racism Framework and increased funding to improve representation of Black faculty. Lenton discussed several other recent matters, including recent eClass outages and the groundbreaking of the new Markham Centre Campus.
Two approvals were made at the meeting, one revising the Senate’s policy on Letters of Permission, and the other authorizing future granting of degrees.
Next, the various Senate Committees provided information reports, introduced new members, and brought up items that might be discussed over the course of the new school year.
At this time, the ASCP brought forward its motion for the new Policy on York University Grading Schemes to be approved by the Senate.
“We held consultations on the new Policy with students and student-leaders from across York in July, facilitated by the Office of the Vice-Provost Students,” says Brushwood-Rose. “The students at these consultations were overwhelmingly supportive of the move to a 4.0 scale.”
“For some reason, the gaps in the nine-point scale seem bigger, so mentally the point I receive on the scale makes it almost feel like it’s higher.”
Several other universities in Canada, including the University of Toronto, already use a four-point scale for students’ GPAs.
“We expect the new Policy to contribute to student success by enhancing internal consistency between programs across York and by bringing York in line with the grading scale used by other post-secondary institutions,” adds Brushwood-Rose. “This will benefit our students when they apply to programs at other post-secondary institutions. Right now those institutions have to convert from our nine-point scale and this can result in inequities for York students.”
Current York students have mixed emotions about a potential change.
“Overall, it would be fine, it would just take some time to adjust to,” says Maria Qasim, a second-year Schulich business administration student. “For some reason, the gaps in the nine-point scale seem bigger, so mentally the point I receive on the scale makes it almost feel like it’s higher.”
Regardless, most current students will most likely be unaffected by this new policy, and they may miss out on those benefits. At the earliest, the Policy will be implemented by Fall 2023, by which time most will have graduated. For those that remain, any grades they received prior to the system change will remain unconverted on their transcript.
While progress was made as of this Senate meeting, the motion has not yet been approved.
“Based on some feedback from colleagues at the meeting, which suggested that the Policy could be improved to address the needs of students who come to York with transfer credit, I chose to withdraw the motion for revision before the next Senate meeting,” says Brushwood-Rose. “We will bring the revised Policy back to the Senate on October 22.”