Penn State Intercom......May 1, 2003

Faculty Senate takes
action on several policies

In its final meeting for 2002-03, the Faculty Senate last week changed or revised policies related to auditing courses, athletic competition and the privacy of employees and students.

The Senate also voted down recommendations from an advisory/consultative report on defining grading standards, and recognized incoming senators and officers for 2003-04.

The change to Policy 34-68 (Auditing a Course), to be implemented this summer, means that credits from audited courses will no longer be used in the determination of a student's full-time status. The change does not affect the calculation of tuition.

The revision to Senate Policy 67-00 (Athletic Competition), also to be implemented this summer, formalizes the tradition that provisional, non-degree regular and non-degree conditional students are not eligible to practice for or compete in intercollegiate athletics contests. The policy applies to both University Park and non-University Park locations.

The revision to Policy AD 53 (Privacy Statement) will, upon approval by the president, define the position of the University on the use of video surveillance cameras in University spaces. The revised policy states in part that, "In general, audio recording or video surveillance of laboratories, classrooms, designated meeting and conference rooms, individually assigned offices, and personal residences shall not be permitted without the consent of the employee or student to which the facility is assigned." Exceptions may be made in certain situations without the knowledge or approval of individuals being monitored by persons with legal or University regulatory authority, after consultation with the appropriate administrators, including situations in which immediate access is vital or an ongoing criminal investigation is being conducted.

The Senate did not approve three recommendations from an advisory/consultative report from the Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education concerning annual grade distribution trends. The report,
found at, presents evidence of a steady increase in the grade point average for University students over the past 15 years. In part, the recommendations called for the continued assignment of grades based solely on instructors' judgment in concert with University standards; administrative encouragement for defining and implementing standards within academic programs to achieve one of four visions for changing the current grade distribution trend; and monitoring of grade changes over time so that remedies may be applied in cases where standards have been compromised.

In other business, the senators discussed the second interim report of the Senate Self Study Committee on a concept for restructuring and for improving the operation and procedures of the Senate. Various changes are under consideration, including eliminating the Senate Council in favor of two smaller councils on undergraduate and academics/resources matters, establishing an Executive Committee, revising the structure of Senate councils/committees, altering the size of the Senate and the term length for senators, and improving coordination and communication between the Senate and Graduate Council.

The next regular meeting of the Faculty Senate will be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16, in Room 112 Kern Graduate Building.