By Hailey Murphy
Starting this quarter, Western has a new policy on repeating classes– and a lot of students are not happy about it.
As usual, some courses are eligible to be retaken for credit, and some are not. If a course can be repeated for additional credit, it’ll say so in the course description. You can go to the University Catalogue to see which classes these are.
Classes that you can’t retake for credit still have value, though. Repeating a class can get you a better grade for those major requirement classes, or it can raise your grade point average. You just won’t get additional credits on top of the original ones.
The old repeating policy was that, when a student repeats a class, all grades would be considered in their GPA calculation. Meaning that students who retook a class would have both the original grade and the repeated grade(s) included in their average.
This is no longer the case. From now on, when a student retakes a class, only the final grade will be calculated in their GPA. However, this new policy doesn’t apply to classes taken in the past. So current Western students with past repeated classes will still have that original grade in their GPA.
Junior James Pai said, “I read about the new grade change policy on the Western Snapchat story. At that point, I just assumed that the policy would be retroactive to current students. I mean, why wouldn’t it be?”
Grades don’t just disappear, of course. Official transcripts will still have both the original and the repeated course grade, regardless of when the class was taken. Just the GPA is affected.
There are a few nuances to this policy change, though. Say you’re a student who has taken the same class two times, prior to this quarter. If you choose to take the class again, the grade you received the second time– the initial repeated time– will no longer be calculated in your GPA. The original grade will be, however, since you did repeat the class prior to the policy change.
If you took a class before this quarter, and now you wish to repeat it, the new policy will apply. The old grade will not be part of your cumulative grade point average.
The exception is in the case of an F. Failing a class when repeating it will result in zero credit rewarded. So there’s an inherent risk that comes with repeating classes. It’s not a particularly good idea if there’s a risk of getting a worse grade than before.
Many students feel that this policy should retrograde to currently enrolled students. They say the policy favors new students and fails to account for students who lacked resources and support at the beginning of their college career.
“It is only fair that the GPA of current students be placed on an even playing field with new incoming students,” Pai said.
Pai took action by contacting faculty. He was put in contact with Steven Vanderstaay, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.
Vanderstaay said that they foresaw current students concerns, but said that, “Because transcripts are final upon graduation, we knew that the policy could not be made retroactive.”
He went on to argue that with the policy change being necessary and the AS Board voting to make the change, it wouldn’t be fair to new students to withhold a policy simply because previous students didn’t have the same opportunity.
When asked to further explain why the policy isn’t retroactive, Vanderstaay said, “Western’s faculty discussed the many issues related to retroactively applying the new repeat policy to active students with prior enrollment. In the end, we concluded that the results would be highly individualized from one student to the next, with positive or negative outcomes that may have created substantial harm or disruption to dependent support systems, such as a student’s financial aid, scholarships, etc. In addition, we determined that there would likely be unintended consequences we could not anticipate. It was determined that it was not appropriate to apply retroactive action to continuing students.”
However, Vanderstaay welcomes any student who “truly feels grieved” to contact the registrar’s office and petition for a change in policy.