Senate delays plus/minus grading change until 2008

Though the new plus/minus grading system was anticipated to begin fall of 2007, the Faculty Senate announced at its Jan. 22 meeting the launch date has been pushed back a year.

Gail Wells, vice president of Academic Affairs and provost, said the Process Re-engineering and Information Systems Migration (PRISM), which will allow the plus/minus system to be used, will not be launched this year. PRISM is a new software system that will replace the administration’s previous system, according to Bill Reed, director of Special Projects.

It will take an additional 350 hours for PRISM to be a usable program, Wells said. Without PRISM, the plus/minus grading system will not begin as planned in the fall of 2007, but she said she is “confident it will be up and going by fall 2008.”

“We would rather bring it up without errors than bring it up early with errors,” Wells said.

Student issues were the main topics of discussion at the meeting, namely the free expression policy review.

Dr. Mark Shanley, vice president of Student Affairs, discussed the campus changes that will result from the implementation of the free expression policy.

“It opens the entire campus to free assembly, within reason, as long as it does not interfere with normal operations,” Shanley said.

Although the entire campus will be open to free assembly, he expects students to naturally identify a new free assembly area, such as the Student Union or the amphitheater, where students set up for events.

Shanley also addressed concerns expressed in previous Faculty Senate meetings in reference to the demonstration regulations outlined in the policy. He said demonstrations on campus cannot be “delegated to the baseball field or the back 40.”

Although the policy does not specifically require advanced registration for a demonstration, it “strongly suggests a group of 50 or more pre-register the demonstration,” Shanley said. He said space is then distributed on a first come, first serve basis.

“All demonstration decisions will be content neutral,” Shanley said.

Under the new policy, free speech will be permitted anywhere on campus, according to Shanley. He said speech that could be considered offensive will be allowed and has to be tolerated.

“Free speech is not pretty. We will have to take it, words and all,” Shanley said.

The Faculty Senate unanimously approved the free expression policy for review by the Staff Congress and Student Government Association. Final policy recommendations will be submitted by both groups to the Board of Regents in March.