LSA Student Government passes resolution on language requirement

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - 11:14pm

LSA Student Government meets to discuss the LSA foreign language requirement in Mason Hall Wednesday evening.

LSA Student Government meets to discuss the LSA foreign language requirement in Mason Hall Wednesday evening. Buy this photo
Keemya Esmael/Daily

LSA Student Government convened for their weekly meeting Wednesday evening in Mason Hall to discuss the LSA language requirement policy and fixing faulty MCard readers in residence halls.

LSA SG passed a resolution 26 to 0 in favor of allowing the last semester of the language requirement to be taken pass/fail. LSA juniors Gabbie Ammond, Wyatt Puscas, Jon Reid, LSA sophomore Jordan Schuler and LSA senior Hanna Simmons sponsored the resolution and discussed concerns many students taking language courses may have about their GPAs in language courses. This resolution will not make the desired change, but rather recommends LSA change its policy. For this policy change to come into effect, faculty committees such as the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs and the Dean's office must approve it.

Currently, students are required to take four semesters of one language in order to complete LSA’s language requirement. The first three courses in the sequence can be taken pass/fail, but the last course has to be taken for a grade. Since the language requirement went into effect, students have voiced concerns over the large time commitment required to finish all four courses of the sequence.

Puscas said LSA SG has been working to bring this resolution to the floor for close to two years. The sponsors of the resolution said it was “common sense” that students should be allowed to take the last semester pass/fail, since all other LSA requirements, like quantitative reasoning, do not need to be taken for a grade to count toward the distribution requirement. Puscas said this disparity is unfair for students who may have difficulties learning languages.

“Some students may struggle with learning a language, whereas other students may excel at that,” Puscas said. “But if I have a lot of difficulty working with numbers and models and stuff, I can take my QR requirement pass/fail. However, if I’m a student that struggles learning languages, that isn’t a liberty on the final course of the sequence that’s afforded to me.”

Reid, who serves on the technology, advising and academic committee, said a curriculum committee meeting in 1994 determined that students who take the language requirement pass/fail show “minimal interest” and “put forth minimal effort” in the courses. Reid contested these claims, saying students who take courses pass/fail are actually better able to explore their interest in the language without worrying about GPA.

“The stigma is still there around taking a class pass/fail,” Reid said. “So I think this is one of many projects we hope to pursue in terms of trying to reverse the narrative on this stigma around pass/fail courses.”

Ammond, who serves as the chair of the academic affairs committee for LSA SG, also noted how a student taking a course pass/fail is held to the same standard as those taking it for a grade.

“The threshold for receiving this proficiency credit is a C-, which is also the threshold for pass or fail,” Ammond said. “That’s roughly about a 30 percent, a 70 percent is a C- in a curved course. Your participation grade is roughly a 30 percent. So if you don’t participate at all, you’re not going to pass a class, because if you don’t participate at all it’s highly unlikely you’ll get a 100 percent on everything else. So the argument that these students aren’t participating at all just doesn’t make any sense.”

LSA SG also passed a resolution 24 to 0 in favor of working to fix MCard readers in residence halls, which they said repeatedly fail to work. Reid said a survey sent out to students showed that 86.1 percent of respondents had to swipe their MCards at least three times, making the process frustrating and inefficient for residents.

The government also voted to confirm Nicholas Fadanelli, Rackham student and former LSA SG president, as elections director for their upcoming election. Before bringing the vote to the table, LSA SG President Nathan Wilson, LSA senior, praised Fadanelli’s previous work as elections director.

“He’s been a dedicated member of student government for his four years of undergraduate education,” Wilson said. “He was our elections director last semester and we believe he does an excellent job running the election. He produced the most comprehensive report that has ever been produced by an elections director and he has been working with us since producing that report on improving our processes for elections.”

 

Correction: This article has been updated to clarify the impact of the language requirement resolution.