Change USF Class Grading to Mandatory Pass/Fail for Spring 2020 Due to COVID-19

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Due to the overwhelming shifts in our learning because of the changes made in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, students and faculty at the University of San Francisco are all struggling to adapt to an online learning model. Professors are having to adapt their entire curriculum to fit a whole new platform, affecting the significant amount of experiential learning we benefit from at USF and the personal relationships that we build with our educators that contribute to our academic success. Students are experiencing major struggles adapting to classes online, whether that be finding adequate environments in which to successfully complete an online course or students residing internationally being forced to wake up at ungodly hours to attend ZOOM lectures that are held in the San Francisco time zone.

We are proposing that USF change its current grading policies to a pass/fail grading model. We request that this model be applied to all undergraduate and graduate student grades for the spring semester of 2020 to account for the extenuating circumstances under which we are all operating given the current situation in our world. According to Allison Stanger of The Chronicle of Higher Education, "Changing all courses to pass/fail and adding an asterisk to everyone’s transcript would eliminate any problems with fairness while allowing students and faculty to focus on creating a meaningful learning experience in anxious times." A pass/fail grading model would in no way compromise the integrity of USF as an institution. Rather, it would be a demonstration of the exact ideals that USF touts as its Core Values, namely:

  • "Learning as a humanizing, social activity rather than a competitive exercise"
  • "Social responsibility in fulfilling the University’s mission to create, communicate and apply knowledge to a world shared by all people and held in trust for future generations"
  • "The full, integral development of each person and all persons, with the belief that no individual or group may rightfully prosper at the expense of others"

Please take a moment to sign this petition to encourage USF to join institutions like MIT, Columbia, Cornell, and others in creating a more equitable learning environment for all students during these trying times. Thank you very much for your support.