Petition sparks request for pass/fail option

Rhonda Wheeler, News Editor

A “concerned student” started a petition to convince USI to change the grading system to a pass/fail option for the remainder of the semester after the university switched to online courses due to COVID-19.

The petition requests a pass/fail option for a number of reasons, including the “great deal of stress and anxiety across the student body.”

Another reason is since USI is a diverse school, there are international and out-of-state students who were displaced by the virus because they cannot afford to fly home, are concerned for their family or can’t travel home because of the current travel bans.

The petition states many student-workers are being placed on unpaid leave and can’t make an income, which is a stress factor for those who rely on the money for food, housing or to support their family.

The petition acknowledged the role letter grades play in scholarship eligibility and GPA calculations and proposed transcripts with letter grades to provide some sort of footnote or asterisk to recognize any grades from this semester occurred during the pandemic.

The author of the petition, who labeled themselves as “concerned student,” said in a disclaimer the petition is asking for students to be given the option to choose if they would like their courses to be pass/fail, not for the entire student body to switch to it.

They also said they would benefit more by maintaining the current grading scale, but they strongly believe students should have the choice to switch if it would benefit them.

“This petition is not meant to divide the student body, it’s more to bring everybody together and maybe fight for each other and be there for others of us who are going through an especially difficult time right now,” the author wrote.

Taylor Edwards, a junior management major, said she is open for students to have the option.

“If you were to give the option, that takes a lot of stress off of me as a student,” she said. “That takes a lot of anxiety and stress off. I think that would benefit me now because I’m terrified of online courses.”

Kaitlyn Yurchiak, a sophomore elementary and special education major, wouldn’t take the option to switch her classes to pass/fail.

“I say that is a great idea, but you have to work hard for your degree,” she said. “If you’re not willing to work hard for it, then what’s the point of going to college?”

As of March 28, the petition has 882 signatures. 

Provost Mohammed Khayum said in a Zoom Q&A meeting with seniors earlier this week that a pass/fail option for classes is “under consideration” and a decision would be made soon.