McGill Senate Approves Additional S/U Policy for 2020/2021

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The McGill Senate voted in favour of adopting an additional Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) policy at a special senate meeting on December 15. The policy will apply exclusively to the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 semesters, allowing students to select more courses to be graded as pass/fail than they are usually able to with existing requirements. 

Under the approved policy, students can take six additional credits to be graded as S/U over the Fall and Winter terms. Unlike the regular S/U policy in place at McGill, for these semesters, the selected courses may be counted toward complementary or required courses in addition to elective credits. This policy applies to additional S/U credits on top of the normal amount allotted, so these six credits will not be counted toward the current ten percent maximum for S/U courses going toward students’ degrees.  

Students will also be able to select S/U grading for their courses after their grades have been posted. For the Fall semester, the selection period will be in early January, and for the Winter term, it will take place in early May. 

The motion was submitted by a combination of students and administrators: Senators Brooklyn Frizzle, Kristi Kouchakji, Angela Campbell, Fabrice Labeau, and Gillian Nycum. A special senate meeting was called in order to bring this motion to a vote before the start of the holiday break. 

Before the vote began, senators had the opportunity to voice concerns or offer statements in support of the motion. Senator Labeau supported the motion with reports of similar policies that have been implemented across other universities in Quebec, including Concordia, Bishop’s University, and the University of Montreal. 

Senator Darshan Daryanani also expressed support for the motion, noting its potential impacts for improving student equity and accessibility. “Remote learning has really had disproportionate impacts on certain groups over others,” Daryanani said. “So this motion will really aim to remove some barriers that will allow students to seek an S/U option [without] conditions that would threaten their immigration requirements or their scholarship eligibility for the current academic year.”

Senator Nathalie Sroka-Fillion raised concerns about potential burdens that this policy could cause for administrative staff. In response, Senator and Deputy Provost Labeau noted that the proposed deadlines for S/U selection were chosen in order to create as little burden as possible for staff, knowing that if students make changes after their grades have been submitted, enrollment services will need to manually perform the updates.

A similar motion about S/U policy was brought forth before the Senate’s most recent meeting on December 2, but was not approved by the steering committee, resulting in a contentious meeting. Senator Frizzle expressed their gratitude at the December 15 meeting that the motion was now able to come to a vote, stating: “I think it’s important to note that over the past few weeks we’ve been able to come from a place of … bitter adversarial conflict to a place of cooperation and collaboration.”

Senator Frizzle expressed gratitude to other students and administrators that worked on this motion. “This was a product of immense collaboration and really tireless student advocacy,” they said “We were able to come to a solution that is agreeable [to the faculty and administration] and goes quite a long way to supporting students and their needs as well.”

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