Next fall a change to the existing Pass/No Credit grading policy will allow undergraduate students at Stony Brook to choose a minimum grade they wish to record on their transcript. If they don’t achieve that minimum grade or higher, but earn above a D, they will get a P. If they receive below a D, it will show up on their transcript as NC.

The new grade policy, called Grade/Pass/No Credit, or GPNC, was suggested to the Undergraduate Council by Deborah Machalow, executive vice president of USG. Machalow drafted the policy and presented it to a UGC committee which re-drafted and finalized it.

GPNC allows students to take courses outside their comfort zone without risking damage to their GPA, according to Professor Scott Sutherland, chair of the Undergraduate Council.

For example, if an English major is interested in taking a physics class, but worries that it may be too difficult, the student can choose the GPNC option and select an A as the minimum grade. That means the student will still be motivated to work in the class because the possibility of earning a good grade still exists, but his or her GPA won’t be affected if he or she receives below an A.

Students have the GPNC option through the ninth week of class, but they may only do so for one class per semester, and they cannot choose the option for the same class more than once. Grades of P and NC do not satisfy DEC requirements and many major requirements. Students may not choose the GPNC option for certain courses, including any courses in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences majors.

In an email to the academic advisors on campus, Assistant Provost Richard J. Gatteau said, “Currently, about 1,000 students select the P/NC option each term, and instead of having the P or NC as the only possible outcomes, the [Undergraduate] Council agreed that allowing an opportunity for a grade to still appear on the transcript encourages students to work hard to achieve their desired goal.”

The Undergraduate Council, the University Senate and the Undergraduate Student Government all supported the new policy. With the approval of the Provost Dennis Assanis’ office, it will be implemented next fall, though some technicalities such as how it will function on SOLAR, have not been finalized.

During the debate at the March 14 USG Senate meeting, Senator Jason Sockin said he opposed the new policy because it eliminated the risk that comes with taking difficult courses.

“There has to be a point where the administration says they don’t want to bend on this,” he said. Most universities have a P/NC option, but Sockin said he feels implementing the GPNC option would create too large of a safety net and would increase complacency in students.

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