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USC allow students to elect Pass/No Pass for any class

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Dear USC, 

We know that last semester (Spring 2020) you graciously elected to give us the option to pass/no pass due to the sudden switch to an online semester, but you don't feel it’s necessary this semester (Fall 2020) because we knew it would be an online semester from the start. However, this does not feel fair because the only option we have as USC students is to continue our degree online or delay our graduation date. Additionally, our semester was shortened making stakes higher and already difficult classes more rigorous.

Coronavirus as a pandemic has only gotten worse since we left school in May, with a spike predicted to be coming soon. The psychological effects of being inside for a majority of the week and having to move back home for many students is taking a toll on our ability to perform. If coronavirus was a valid reason to enact that policy last semester, it is even more valid now. To add on to that, students are also at the forefront of a very difficult time aside from the pandemic. We are tackling racial inequality, an upcoming election that has high stakes, record-breaking fires going on in our home state of California, and the added pressure of a shortened semester that makes everything dense and allows for no breaks for students to decompress and compose themselves.

Please, with all that is going on do not try to bring our grades back to our "normal" grading system. The world we are living in right now is not normal and our grading system should reflect that. Classes have not gotten any easier but the state of the world is much, much harder than it was at the beginning of this year. Students should have the opportunity to elect certain classes (including major requirements) as pass/no pass so we can manage our stress and not feel that we have to choose between our mental health and our GPA. 

Please USC, we know you care about your students and understand what is going on in our world and what we are facing. Allow your students a bit of a release from the pressure of having to hold on to our GPAs while the world is falling apart.

USC is an amazing institution and a trailblazer in making new standards in higher education, please keep the momentum going and keep putting your students and their wellbeing first as you have done before. I hope you understand all that we are going through and the profound effect this could have on the student body.

Other academic institutions such as Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California, Irvine, Johns Hopkins University and UNC Chapel Hill have enacted similar policies. These sentiments are felt not only by USC students, but students all across the country. However, taking into account our shortened semester and everything going on in California, there should be no reason we should not prioritize our students and have such a policy as well. 

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