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Fractional grading hot topic at first ASNMSU senate meeting

NMSU student senators took a stand against fractional grading Thursday, Feb. 6, at the first Associated Students of New Mexico State University Senate meeting of the 2020 spring semester.

While the discussion about fractional grading did not take place until the end of the meeting, it stole the show. ASNMSU Vice President Melina Burnside told the senators that the student body needed to have a united front when discussing the proposed change to NMSU’s grading system.

Left to right: ASNMSU Chief Senate Clerk Austin Floeck, Deputy Senate Clerk Kameron Quiring, Vice President Melina Burnside and President Pro Tempore Jonathan Ortiz preside over the Senate’s first meeting of the spring 2020 semester Thursday, Feb. 6, at Corbett Center. (Photo by Kayleigh Getkin/Kokopelli)

Based on communications with NMSU Faculty Senate Chair Becky Corran, Burnside said that getting the university to switch to a consistent grading system, whether it be fractional or traditional, would be beneficial to students. Burnside also indicated changing over to a consistent grading system would be easier with student support.

Burnside discussed setting up tabling events in the coming weeks to allow the senators to reach out to the student body. The purpose of these tabling events would be to encourage students to take a closer look at the grading system we currently have and how it could be changed to better benefit them. Students would be asked to either sign a piece of paper or take an online poll to express their opinions on which form of grading NMSU should use.

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Fractional vs. Traditional Grading

As the conversation continued, senators shared their own opinions about fractional grading. The consensus was that they do not like it. One of the first to express concern over fractional grading was President Pro Tempore Jonathan Ortiz. He spoke on behalf of the engineering college. “We hate A minuses,” Ortiz said.

Senator Jarod Peterman from the College of Arts and Sciences agreed with this sentiment. “Fractional grading hurts those who don’t do well, and it does not reward those who do well because the A plus does not offer the same compensation … if we cannot get that bonus, then we should just do away with fractional grading,” Peterman said.

The only senator who spoke up in favor of fractional grading was graduate Senator Ehtesham Shareef. He mentioned that while there are some unfavorable parts of fractional grading, there are also parts that may be beneficial. “Yes, we hate the A minus and B minus, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to remove the B plus,” Shareef said.

The meeting shifted to a different topic when Burnside gave a recap of another popular topic of the night: reforming the ASNMSU law book. The law book covers such items as ASNMSU election procedures, rules regarding all three branches of student government and financial operations.

Earlier in the meeting, ASNMSU President Evan Conner discussed reforming the law book this semester to fix some inconsistencies and to make it more beneficial to the student body. According to Conner, the NMSU student government is in a good position, but that doesn’t mean it can’t do better. “We work well. We are one of the largest student governments in the world. We are one of the most powerful student governments in the world … but there’s always room for improvement,” Conner said.

Conner said he wanted to do the reforms now because the current members of the Senate and the executive staff have what he would estimate to be over 200 collective years in student government, but that won’t always be the case. “I think we owe it to the student body, as well as the future people that are in ASNMSU, to use our collective experience in doing this law book reform,” Conner said.

An example he presented of how they might reform the law book is restructuring the court system, so its members will be elected by the student body. According to Conner, this would give the student body more of a voice and it would save the student government some money because the people in these positions would no longer be paid employees, but rather students on the same scholarship stipend as the senators. Under the current draft, this change would save the government approximately $35,000.

The dates for this year’s ASNMSU elections were also announced at Thursday’s meeting. According to Chief Elections Officer Neal Bitsie, campaigning for the upcoming elections will begin March 30 at 8 a.m. Voting will begin April 6 at 8 a.m. and close April 9 at 5 p.m. The inauguration for new leadership will be held April 23.

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