U of M Senate Approves Adapted Version of Student Recommendations for Compassionate Grading
Winnipeg, MB– On Wednesday afternoon, the University of Manitoba Senate voted to approve a compassionate grading scheme for students for the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 terms – 83% of members voting in favour, 9% abstaining, and 8% against.
The membership of the University of Manitoba Senate includes Chancellor Anne Mahon, University President Dr. Michael Benarroch, university vice-presidents, faculty deans, directors of schools, faculty-elected senators, student-elected senators, as well as representatives from the university’s Board of Governors and the Alumni Association.
This decision follows months of reports from students across faculties describing stressors and turmoil faced by the University of Manitoba student body, including, but not limited to: the status of COVID-19 in Manitoba, online learning, and the recent threat of academic disruption due to potential job action as a result of labour disputes between the University of Manitoba Faculty Association and University administration . Further details can be found in the previous release, dated November 24, 2020.
Regarding compassionate grading, the students brought forth weeks of vigorous discussion at the university committee level, with the Student Senate Caucus proposal being discussed first at the COVID-19 Academic Committee, and then at the COVID-19 Steering Committee. Modifications to the proposal as originally submitted were made between the two bodies as the weeks went on. The result is an adapted version of the Student Senate Caucus recommendations for compassionate grading, approved by the University of Manitoba Senate.
The newly approved grading scheme gives students the choice to exclude from their UM grade point average (GPA) up to one (1) grade received in Fall term and up to one (1) grade received in Winter term, or, up to one (1) grade received in a spanned course which runs through both Fall and Winter terms.
The University has yet to finalize decisions surrounding deadlines and other administrative mechanisms. The University of Manitoba Students’ Union and the University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association will be working together with the central administration to coordinate resources for students to better understand their new options.
If a student selects these options, the exclusion of one or two grades will result in a new, adjusted grade point average. This new average will be used for all GPA-based performance requirements, including program progression, probation, suspension, and requirements to withdraw, as well as to determine eligibility for UM bursaries and scholarships.
Kristin Smith, VP Advocacy at UMSU and Co-Chair of the Student Senate Caucus, sees this as a win for students. She states: “Students needed this. They needed their university to make a nod to the fact that online learning in the Fall has not been all it was promised to be – and for many, that it’s caused irregular educational and mental health outcomes.”
Smith continues: “The next step is for us to work toward actually solving the problems associated with online learning – to get to a point where we don’t need compassionate grading to correct for those problems anymore.”
Adds Rubel Talukder, VP Academic at UMGSA: “On behalf of all students, I want to convey my sincere thanks to the University Administration for considering and approving the Compassionate Grading option especially in such a short time period. It will be a sigh of relief for Graduate students especially, who are already under extreme stress trying to adapt to the online learning amid COVID-19.”
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