The Undergraduate Student Government senate voted Tuesday to change the policy for granting Latin honors to graduating transfer students.
The policy calls for the administration to eliminate the practice of calculating grade point averages from other universities when considering a student for Latin honors.
The three levels of Latin honors are cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude. The honors are given to students with at least a 3.5 GPA or higher. They are awarded to a senior at graduation.
To determine if a student has met the requirements for this senior distinction, both their residence work and transfer work from the previous college are considered. Currently, the university uses the lower GPA to award the Latin honor.
the assistant director of academic affairs Michael Yoshimura believes that this resolution will not harm the transfer student population.
“It can only positively affect a student because the [current] policy only takes the lower one,” Yoshimura said. “By taking the USC one it won’t affect them and it will positively affect their GPA.”
Transfer students make up 29 percent of the undergraduate student population. Of the 17,500 undergraduate students, 6,640 of those are transfer students from other colleges. The average transfer GPA is 3.6 in 2012.
According to the university’s guidelines on admitting transfer students, the rigor of the student’s previous college or university is considered. The administration does not consider the student’s previous grade point average after they are admitted into the university. It is only later used for the purposes of determining which seniors receive Latin honors.
Residential senator Sarah Loh views this new policy as a way to equalize the system for all students. Loh co-authored the resolution along with Yoshimura.
“It’s kind of like leveling the playing field,” Loh said. “The whole student body population benefits because this is the school you’re graduating from and the caliber of work here is the same.”
According to the U.S. News and World Report college rankings, 16 of the top 25 universities grant Latin honors to graduating seniors. Eleven of those universities, including Harvard, Yale and UCLA, only consider the residence coursework of their students when determining which Latin honors a student should receive. Yoshimura and Loh felt that the university should follow the same policy.
Loh believes the transfer student population will respond positively to the change in policy if adopted by the administration.
“It doesn’t negatively affect them and it’s a way that they can be compared to their classmates without using a GPA that is not irrelevant,” Loh said. “I don’t foresee any negative responses.”
Some students viewed a change in the policy as disadvantageous to students who had strong grades in their previous college coursework.
“Personally I wouldn’t want them to get rid of it,” said Joy Ohiomoba, a freshman majoring in global health. “It’s a gamble because it puts [transfer students] at a disadvantage because they could get a lower honor. I like the idea of the administration factoring other coursework in.”
Some students felt the policy change was a matter of bringing more uniformity to the way the administration determines undergraduate honors.
“If you come from an easier or harder school, either way it’s detrimental and unfair,” said Victoria McSweeney, a freshman majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. “They should change the policy no matter what because you’re going to USC so it should be your USC GPA that is being considered, not your GPA from another school.”
Senators also updated a resolution that added a student representative on the tuition board. The student representative would serve to better understand how the administration determines tuition prices.