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Presidential Perspectives

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Hey Carnegie Mellon,

The main objectives of the Weinstock/Jain administration this past week were the new exploration of the CMU5 Mystery Issue (www.cmu5.com) and the proposed +/- grading system.

With regard to the Mystery Issue, we saw Evan Osheroff, chairman of the Senate Academic Affairs Committee, and Guangzu Gao, a fellow committee member, take tremendous initiative in researching our peer institutions’ policies. At MIT, Johns Hopkins, and Brown, first-year undergraduates are allowed a semester of pass/fail grading in order to adapt to the rigors of collegiate classes and their varying grading scales.

As a student government, we feel that adopting a similar policy at Carnegie Mellon would help integrate new students into our educational system. With a little less stress, we believe that students would participate more in organizations and other extracurriculars, which would allow Carnegie Mellon to develop into the well-rounded undergraduate experience we hope it can be. So far, the issue has been endorsed by Senators and myself at Senate meetings and the University Educational Council. This would be a major change, and we hope that you will give us your feedback, positive or negative.

On the +/- issue, a great debate is underway. The last time I reported on this issue was when Faculty Senate decided to install a shadow grading system this semester to examine whether or not students’ QPAs would benefit from +/- grading. Since then, there has been argument as to whether or not such a study would prove statistically accurate. A proposed revision would be to conduct a four-year experiment with an upcoming freshman class by monitoring whether their grades improve from past averages with an installed +/- system. We should see this issue resolved by the end of the year.

Student Senate will host a forum to debate both of the issues mentioned above. It will happen during Senate’s regular Thursday meeting in Breed Hall (Margaret Morrison 103) from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Everyone on campus is free to come, as Senate always values outside participation. We want to enact change that will benefit the general student population, in addition to standing up for values that students believe in. The only way we can do this is if we hear your voices. If you want more information regarding this forum, please e-mail me at cmu5@cmu.edu or Senate Chair Jared Itkowitz at jitkowit@.