UVA Needs to Adopt Universal C/NC Grading System

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UVA needs to adopt a Universal Credit/No Credit policy as soon as possible for the Spring 2020 semester. There are numerous reasons UVA needs to make this change, including but not limited to:

1) Having the option to opt into a regular grading scale will most negatively impact students of low socioeconomic status, as they are the students who are likely to opt for C/NC instead of letter grades. This is because they are less likely to have the time they need to study effectively as well as have a comfortable place to work at home. These are the students who are likely going to be spending their time helping their parents work or look after their family. In contrast, students of high socioeconomic status are likely to opt for letter grades, as they likely have the time and environment to work comfortably and perform well. In the future, the students who opt for C/NC will inevitably be compared with the students that opt for letter grades. The students of lower socioeconomic status will look bad comparatively, and will thus be at a disadvantage when applying to graduate schools, internships, and jobs in the future. If UVA wants to support students of lower socioeconomic status as much as it support its wealthier students, it needs to implement a universal C/NC policy as soon as possible.

1) Many pre-professional and graduate schools are requiring letter grades for this semester only if the University gives the students the option of receiving letter grades. Not only does having the option of a grade put students of lower socioeconomic status at a disadvantage, but it punishes those who are putting in extra time volunteering in their communities or taking care of their families at the expense of their grades (e.g pre-medical students who are EMTs). If UVA cut the option of grades and went to a universal C/NC policy, then these students would not be at a disadvantage when applying to higher education programs and they could continue serving their communities without unnecessary stress. 

2) The vast majority of students are putting in extra hours to support their families and communities and do not have the time to study enough to earn the grades they would receive during a normal semester. There are many students that are working as EMTs full-time. There are many students working to care for their elderly grandparents and/or parents. There are many students who have friends and family who have COVID-19 and are extremely worried. There are students who have COVID-19. There are students looking after their younger siblings while their parents work. There are students who have to find a job to help support their families. If you're a student, I'm sure you can relate to at least one of the scenarios above. 

3) If the university really was prioritizing our health and wellbeing, they would realize that having grades during this unprecedented time is a great cause of unnecessary stress and anxiety. Learning online is hard enough without the overarching panic of a global pandemic, not to mention the exceptionally short transition period students were given to learn how to learn from a screen. Many students also left necessary medication in Charlottesville, which only made the transition to isolated online learning harder and the lack of their access to their medication likely affected their performance in their classes.

Ultimately, in the current crisis that the world is in, students should not have to be worried about a grade in a course and how it will affect their future. They should be prioritizing their health and well-being and helping their communities out as best they can. Having the option of grades increases anxiety and places many students (especially those of lower socioeconomic status) at a disadvantage. UVA needs to follow the footsteps of respected schools such as Harvard and Columbia and implement a Universal C/NC system. Please sign this petition in support of UVA implementing a universal credit/no credit policy for the Spring 2020 semester. Thank you for your support.