Texas Southern - Ensure Housing for On-Campus Students & Adapt the #AFA Grading Model.

Texas Southern - Ensure Housing for On-Campus Students & Adapt the #AFA Grading Model.

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Tiger Family, I need you more than ever. As students, we have the opportunity to produce and deliver an ethical solution towards what’s currently happening in our world. This semester abruptly ending drastically impacts graduating seniors, stifles the academic progress of current undergraduate students, prolongs the anxiousness of students awaiting to be accepted into graduate programs, and most importantly, our overall quality of life.

With this epidemic continuing to displace and disrupt our natural lives, we must act now as a student body. In addition, this global pandemic denies (for students and faculty) our means of financial accessibility, restricts the mobility of transportation, and inconveniences many channels/personnel that would have to be "hands-on" for the assurance of a working system like Texas Southern University. Moreover, in accordance with the University’s Manual of Administrative Polices and Procedures (Prod. 02.06.03), Texas Southern University MUST take ethical and appropriate action towards the academic and physical well-being of its students. The University’s Communicable Disease Policy affirms this. Neglecting to consider the financial positioning, the living environment, and the means for a conducive learning environment (WiFi, Laptop accessibility, etc) could be viewed as insensitive/unethical towards a student body that is culminated from differing individual circumstances.

The University proposes to adapt Blackboard as the channel to continue to disseminate coursework to ALL students online. In theory, BlackBoard would be a viable way to achieve this goal. Nevertheless, BlackBoard will not hold capacity for a quantifiable number of the desired majors the university provides.  The rest of the nation’s best and brightest students will suffer immensely due to the online traffic and the sporadic maintenance times. Also, the in-house adaptions to achieve such a lofty goal will be far too expensive. Compelling costs become an issue as educational institutes have to procure the dedicated software, hardware, and pay the subscription license and hire additional staff to maintain BlackBoard at an respective institution. Furthermore, the drawbacks pertaining to the quality of learning in an eLearning environment are rising in educational commentary.

Which leads us to this proposal of solvency:

The Student Learning Center (SASS) which is relied upon by many low-income and marginalized students, can only offer virtual drop-ins and tutoring for which those within these populations without a laptop and reliable internet cannot access; and

WHEREAS, many students are dependent on this semester to meet requirements and achieve grades needed for their  future endeavors in applying to graduate school; and

WHEREAS, those who are on pre-professional tracks (pre-health, pre-law, etc) would have to take an extra semester in order to meet professional requirements which would be an undue financial burden on low-income, international, undocumented, transfer/non-traditional, DSP, and other students; and

WHEREAS, transfer/non-traditional students have already had their GPA’s reset to 0.00 upon arrival and would impact their ability to apply to professional/graduate/medical/law school as well as study abroad opportunities; and

WHEREAS, a student who receives all incomplete grades, takes all courses on a passed/not passed basis, earns all IPs, or a combination of passed/not passed, incomplete, NR and IP grades will fail to achieve a sufficient GPA and will be placed on probation; and

WHEREAS, even if the student earns all passes, since no grade points are earned, the student will have a 0.0 GPA and will be placed on probation; and

WHEREAS, UC Berkeley has implemented this framework within their senate and was unanimously passed: and  

WHEREAS, Harvard students have rallied for a similar Double A Model to be implemented; and

WHEREAS, Yale students have rallied for a Universal Pass Model; and

WHEREAS, University of Southern California students have assembled for the university to allow students to take all their spring semester courses as pass/ no pass; and

WHEREAS, Duke University students have mobilized to encourage the university to allow students to be graded on a pass/no pass scale or on the traditional grading scale; and

WHEREAS, Duke University has responded by offering satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade option for all undergraduate courses this spring semester; and

WHEREAS, UCLA professors have opted to remove final exams in order to prevent academic dishonesty, and assignments have transitioned to grading on completion due to a lack of access to TAs, GSIs, and campus resources; and

WHEREAS, several Chemistry and Human Biology courses at Stanford University have extended or, in some cases, cancelled final exams due to the heightened stress and anxieties surrounding COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, many other universities including but not limited to MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Vanderbilt, Penn State University, Harvard, Middlebury, Grinell, City College of New York,  University of Maine, George Washington University, Northwestern, Duke University have already implemented policies to support students by offering alternate assessments and optional final exams; and

WHEREAS, A’s for All (#AFA) is necessary in order to alleviate stress tied to extenuating circumstances students are experiencing amidst a global pandemic; and

WHEREAS, #AFA is necessary to ensure that all students have fair access to the university and an equitable academic experience, despite known barriers and challenges; and

WHEREAS, #AFA is necessary to make students are not unfairly penalized for their academic efforts, circumstances, or disabilities; and

WHEREAS, #AFA allows seniors, pre-professional, technical majors to fully complete the required content coursework (without being at a disadvantage) just while maintaining a just grading system; and

WHEREAS, an #AFA system allows individuals  to not have to worry about academic performance while also being able to fully complete a semesters' coursework, if the professor chooses; and

WHEREAS, Texas Southern University has a responsibility to prioritize the needs and well-being of students; and

WHEREAS, as a prominent higher-education institution, Texas Southern University should serve as a leader in implementing policies and procedures to respond to crises that impact the academic and personal success of members of the campus community.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Texas Southern University introduce this bill into immediate consideration

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Texas Southern University Student Government Association :

- Support the adoption of an A+/A/A-/B+ grading system for the Spring term of the 2019-2020 academic year.
- Strongly encourage Texas Southern administration to consider this grading system while evaluating the future of Spring 2020 grading, or a modified version of this with grade bins ending at a B-, and adjusted distributions.
- Urge administration to enforce all faculty members to comply with individual students’ accommodations.
- Would like to remind faculty that curve structures themselves disadvantages disabled students due to current inadequate DSP accommodations for virtual classes and should consider non-curved structures for grading.
- Encourage postponing the deadline to opt into pass/no pass grading until at least May 5th.
- Call for lifting the ⅓ cap on pass/no pass enrollment for all students enrolled at the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester.
 -Encourage giving students an additional late drop opportunity and extending the late drop deadline until at least May 5th.
- Advocate for the removal of graduation, major, and academic standing requirements around opting into pass/no pass grading.
- Call for the creation of a notation on a Texas Southern University transcript to indicate class during the COVID-19 crisis and campus shutdown.
- Recommend a more lenient grading curve to faculty in the event that the grading system is not adopted.
- Recommend the suspension of and discourage real-time attendance requirements and graded attendance.
- Call for all exams to be made take-home, and to put an end to intrusive online testing requirements..
 -Call for, if needed, a postponement of commencement while urging against a cancellation or virtual commencement.