Urge UMD to Adopt a Universal Double-A Policy for Spring 2020 #SEEMEUMD

Urge UMD to Adopt a Universal Double-A Policy for Spring 2020 #SEEMEUMD

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On March 19, 2020, President Wallace Loh sent out an email informing students that classes would be taught online starting March 30, 2020 due to the global outbreak of COVID-19. In order to prioritize student wellbeing and educational equity under these difficult circumstances, this petition is set to urge the University of Maryland to implement a Universal Double A grading system for Spring 2020, meaning all students would get either an “A” or “A-” for each course. A Double A system prevents inequities that may arise from other systems, such as a Universal Pass/Fail system or an Optional Pass/Fail System. Furthermore, a Double A Model will protect those who are concerned about grades for post-grad plans, ending their academic probation or upholding scholarship requirements and other benefits contingent on GPA requirements. UMD stands in solidarity with student advocates at UT Austin, Harvard, Yale, Brown, Stanford and UC Berkeley in calling for a universal grading system.

A Double A system prevents students from being punished by the university for circumstances outside of their control, as well as protects the most marginalized students from being actively discriminated against. Due to COVID-19, many students and faculty are expected to perform at the same level as other students, despite having to relocate to a different time zone (such as international students), having to take on jobs due to their parents losing their jobs, taking care of siblings or children otherwise in K-12 schools, having to act as caregivers for their family members while needing to protect themselves, especially if immunocompromised. Additionally, students and faculty who are facing adverse experiences such as food insecurity, homelessness, abuse, lack of internet access or resources are also expected to perform at the same level as their peers. 

It is imperative through this system that we protect all Maryland students, especially those most severely affected. A Universal Double A model will allow all students to be treated equitably under these difficult circumstances. Anything other than a Universal Double A system would further disenfranchise students and place them in a corner where they would have to choose between their GPAs, future academic/professional careers, and scholarships and being able to provide for their families through essential financial and familial obligations during this unprecedented pandemic.

With a Pass/Fail system students would not receive a GPA, which could prevent students from meeting the requirements from any private, athletic or federal scholarships or other benefits. An Optional Pass/Fail system would put students at a further disadvantage, due to the situation of some students who may need a GPA for this semester, but are unable to perform to their fullest due to a lack of resources or sudden caregiving obligations, which will require them to choose to opt into Pass/Fail due to circumstances outside of their control. 

As a school that holds Honor policies and integrity to a high standard, UMD should trust its students to complete the rest of the Spring semester and let students focus on the safety of themselves and their families during this global pandemic. 

We must support our fellow students and our university community. Sign on, share your story and support equal opportunity in education!

For more information and policy specifics, check out our Double A Grading Model FAQs: [Access to FAQ regarding Double-A policy]