First-year forgiveness allows all students to succeed

Thomas Falcigno is a senior double-majoring in political science and journalism and mass communication. He is the executive vice president of the Student Association.

Over the past year, the Student Association has been focusing on advocacy work related to implementing a first-year forgiveness policy across GW’s undergraduate schools — a proposal that we believe represents an important step forward in ensuring that GW offers the best opportunities for all students to succeed academically.

The policy, which will be considered by the Faculty Senate tomorrow, would allow undergraduate students to have the opportunity to retake one course from their first-year at GW in which a student received a D+ or below, replacing their first grade from that course with the second grade earned. The same policy would apply to transfer students, with the exception that this policy would only apply to their first semester here at GW. With this move, GW will join schools like Stanford University and the University of California at Los Angeles who have already discovered the benefits that a first-year forgiveness policy provides.

First-year forgiveness addresses a need to help first-generation students and other students who have to adjust to a new college atmosphere and curriculum by providing a way to re-visit sometimes shaky academic foundations, thus allowing students to build academic success at fundamental levels. This policy is not about GPA manipulation. First-year forgiveness could only improve a student’s GPA by one tenth of a point over 120 credit hours, at the maximum. This policy is about helping students learn the most during their time at GW, a goal we must continue to strive for.

From the beginning of our work on the policy, faculty members have been crucial in its development. The faculty, both formally and informally, gave suggestions that refined and improved the proposal from day one, and we couldn’t have done this without their willingness to work with us in helping students succeed. First-year forgiveness has been developed in concert with faculty input, which has led to a policy that serves the needs of everyone at GW.

As our first-year forgiveness policy begins to enter the final stage of approval, we would like to thank the entire GW community’s support, from the students and administrators to our professors. This has been an academic policy proposal for the students — and I hope to see us take this step together in ensuring GW students have the best chances to learn and succeed.

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