USC Gould 1L Legal Writing & Research P/NP Opt In Petition

USC Gould 1L Legal Writing & Research P/NP Opt In Petition

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USC Gould 1L Concern started this petition to Dean Andrew Guzman

We, a sizable portion of the 1L class, want the current grading structure of our Legal Research and Writing Course (LRW) to include an option for Pass/No Pass. If an opt in system is not feasible or would distort the curve, we request that the grading structure be fully P/NP. 


We believe that there’s still ample time to change the LRW grading policy. We are simply requesting that determination of our LRW grades be made simpler. The counterargument that it's too late to make changes does not resonate with us. Drastic changes were made last Spring in a short notice, which suggests that our request is possible and has precedent.  


We know that this issue has been raised before the unprecedented adversities of this year and we feel that this year’s adversity warrants change to the LRW grading structure for two reasons. 


(1) The LRW Grading Curve is Unfair


We believe the LRW grading curve is unfair because it only applies to a small section of students and does not accurately reflect an individual’s writing abilities. The LRW curve does not reflect the chance that the best writers could all be in a section together. The curve also does not account for the disparity in resources and opportunities that an underprivileged student may experience during this time. Moreover, a curved grade that does not account for these inequities may negatively impact already disadvantaged students. 


(2) Letter Grades Can Distort Our True Writing Ability Unlike a Writing Sample 


When looking at a writing sample, employers will also consider our grades. The quality of our writing samples can be distorted by a potentially unrepresentative letter grade within the context of a small class curve. Further, an employer may value an applicant’s writing ability in a way that a course professor or writing fellow may not based on the style and preferences of that employer. This potential match between an employer’s preference and a student’s writing style may be distorted when an employer first sees performance as compared to the student’s peers. 


With a writing sample, employers can independently evaluate the quality of our work, which is not always accurately reflected on a curve.


In sum, we find the current LRW grading curve unfair because of the hardships that this unprecedented year has brought us. We are anxious, stressed, and suffering through our own individual struggles at this time. This year has brought us vastly different circumstances that call for more equitable approaches to promote our academic, social, and mental-well being. Rather than maintain the status quo from previous years when nothing this year has suggested “the same” is appropriate, we implore the more equitable approach of P/NP. 

 

Independently supported by 1L SBA Student Leadership on behalf of all signees.

*This petition is not sponsored by SBA. This petition is entirely created by 1Ls.

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