Darren Loo |The Poly Post

Academic Senate passes new GWT policy

By Billy Huang, September 26, 2023

Cal Poly Pomona’s Academic Senate held its first monthly meeting of the school year Sept. 20, with senators raising concerns over the new Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement being implemented in fall 2025.

The biggest change in the GWAR policy is there is no longer a test students have to take in order to satisfy their requirements. Instead, students are required to take a course that “demonstrates competence in writing skills through a three semester unit, upper division course, because writing skills are best demonstrated as a process through coursework rather than a single, high-stake benchmarking assignment.” According to the GWAR policy update.

“Everybody will have to take a course that demonstrates their written communication skills,” said Rita Kumar, chair of the Academic Senate. “This policy is intended to implement that CSU level change, which is going forward we don’t take the GWT to show that we are skilled at written communication, we will take a course.”

However, there are various certification standards within the policy update senators from each department must follow when deciding what courses in their major will satisfy GWAR, and all majors must identify, within its curriculum, a way for students to satisfy GWAR.

Many members of the senate questioned the legitimacy and practicality of the changes, since most departments in the university offers writing-intensive courses that satisfy the requirements.

“This isn’t just asking to make sure that you have an assignment in your class that can be used for assessment purposes,” said Nicholas Von Glahn, CFA union president and academic senator of the executive committee. “You need to do some kind of development with writing so that it’s not just assessment. So that does potentially take away some academic freedom.”

Von Glahn explained faculty members face constraints when it comes to how they should teach their courses due to the new policy change, but alterations are being made to make it easier for these courses to fit into the current curriculum.
Even though the Graduate Writing Test was suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19 mandates that prompted the start of online education, CPP’s Alternative GWT Committee has been working to ensure changes can be seamlessly implemented into each student’s curriculum.

“I think there will be some wiggle room for a lot of departments to be able to identify courses to consult with the university writing committee,” said Jessie Vallejo, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee. “The plan is that if departments make their best effort to have this writing requirement made within their core courses and if there’s enough of a percentage of upper division GE classes like C3 and D4s and others that could offer the writing, then between major classes and the GE it shouldn’t be a problem for students to find a class and be able to take it in time.”

After an hour-long discussion, the senate voted in favor of approving the new GWAR policy proposal with intentions of taking everyone’s concerns into account and help make the transition process as easy as possible for both faculty and students.

“This is all through a shared governance process where faculty and administrators come together and we work out the details of how we’re going to implement these initiatives from the chancellor’s office,” said Dennis Quinn, the Academic Senate vice chair.
Although students may feel like they don’t have a voice on the floor, Quinn ensures students there will be an ASI representative so students have a voice on policies that directly impact them.

“Things don’t just happen in a secret place where someone makes a decision and everybody implements it,” said Quinn. “These are faculties that really care for students, and we want to make sure that the transition is equitable for students and for faculty so it’s not too much of a workload because this is something we have no choice about. So, we’re just trying to make sure it works well for our particular campus.”

According to Kumar, if students have particular issues they feel have a big impact on students, the senate is open to hearing about their concerns, and students can do so by attending their monthly meetings as they are open to everyone.

“We absolutely encourage students to use their voices to let us know what’s going on and if there’s something that is important,” said Kumar. “We like to know what students are most interested in.”

For more follow up information on GWAR, the Academic Senate will be holding its next meeting Oct. 18 in room 98-P2-07 from 3 to 5 p.m. Or reach out to Chair of Academic Senate, Rita Kumar at adkumar@cpp.edu.

Feature image courtesy of Darren Loo

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