Editorial: Let students decide grading system


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Photo illustration of student looking over transcripts.

The termination of spring break, in exchange for two days off, was not an entire student body decision and has driven students to a new level of burnout out this semester. The Northern Star Editorial Board believes the university needs to incorporate student opinion more in actions that directly affect them, starting with allowing students to choose unsatisfactory/satisfactory or the regular grading system to appear on their transcript this semester. 

The Faculty Senate discussed the unsatisfactory/satisfactory system at a meeting on March 24 and was torn on whether to use the unsatisfactory/satisfactory grading system or not, according to a March 25 Northern Star article

In favor of the normal grading system, 21.05% voted in favor, 31.58% voted to allow individual students and faculty to decide and 42.11% voted for automatic substitution of unsatisfactory for F. The Faculty Senate decided to advise the Provost’s Office to be flexible in allowing faculty and students to have the “unsatisfactory/satisfactory” option as the grading policy for the spring semester.

Since the Faculty Senate advised the Provost Office to allow students the option to decide, the Editorial Board urges the provost to go through with this advice and let students choose. Direct student body feedback was not taken into consideration when deciding on having a spring break, and while the intention was in our favor to ensure students do not travel and contract COVID-19 it has caused many students to feel more exhausted. And making this decision without student feedback could yield similar results. 

“No matter how dedicated you are, everyone needs a break,” said Jack Gordon, Treasurer of NIU’s Active Minds chapter and first-year BFA acting major. 

Since this semester is not a completely accurate depiction of people’s potential given the obstacles they may have faced due to the pandemic, there will be students who would prefer an unsatisfactory or satisfactory because this has not reflected their abilities. On the other hand, some students may be happy with their grades and want that performance to show. It’ll show up as an A, and not just a pass. 

“We have been so controlled by the world this past year,” Gordon said. “It’s been so difficult for everyone. We’ve had to do so many things we didn’t expect to do or want to do, so I think getting to choose the [unsatisfactory/satisfactory] option or percentage option would mean a lot to people.”