University denies student petition to push Pass/No Pass deadline to April 15

USG will hold a Special Meeting Thursday to vote on a resolution supporting the Pass/No Pass extension.

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Despite a petition starting over the weekend calling for the university to extend the Pass/No Pass deadline to April 15, the university said it will not change the deadline.

The university said it will be returning to normal grading practices “in the interest of equity for all students,” according to an emailed statement from the USC Office of the Provost.

“We advise students to talk with their academic advisors to determine their options,” the statement said.

In a senate meeting on Tuesday, newly-inducted USG Senators Victor Ye, freshman communications major, and Alvaro Flores, junior international relations and global economy major, introduced a resolution to extend the Pass/No Pass deadline to April 15 and the withdrawal deadline to the last day of classes. According to the student government’s bylaws, the resolution would then be voted on in their next scheduled meeting on Tuesday, April 12.

However, USG Vice President Nivea Krishnan called a Special Senate Meeting for Thursday, April 7 at 6 p.m. Senators will discuss and vote on the resolution — potentially amending certain sections — as well as student organizing efforts regarding Pass/No Pass. With the current withdrawal deadline on Friday, April 8, USG felt this was time sensitive and called the second special meeting this school year.

Since Spring 2020, USC has extended the deadline each semester for Pass/No Pass in light of the pandemic. This semester, the deadline for Pass/No Pass was Feb. 11, just three weeks after the beginning of the semester.

Students created a petition, which garnered more than 1,400 signatures by Wednesday afternoon, requesting the deadline be extended to two weeks before the end of classes this semester.

“It is unreasonable to expect us to decide between a letter grade or pass/no pass option not even halfway into the semester,” the petition read. “Let alone after only a few weeks of in-person classes. In certain classes, a single midterm and final exam are the only assignments that impact our grade.”

Ye said the administration making the decision to deny the petition to extend the Pass/No Pass deadline came from a lack of knowledge of students’ experiences.

“Unfortunately for the administration, they aren’t sitting in every classroom, they aren’t sitting in every club meeting, they aren’t quarantining at the [USC] hotel just like students are,” Ye said. “They aren’t experiencing the different restrictions that students have on campus.”

Ye believed the university was rejecting individual requests for an extension but may be more receptive to the change if USG is able to approve the resolution advocating for this extension.

The petition outlines reasons students say an extension is necessary, most notably addressing the ever-changing policies on campus surrounding COVID-19.

For instance, the spring semester began with two weeks of online instruction before transitioning back to in-person learning. On March 7, USC stated it would be lifting the mask requirement indoors, as well as the weekly testing requirement.

For many students, like sophomore public relations major Anisa Robinson, this change was unexpected and quick.

“I’ve never really been an anxious person, but this semester with the whole mask-off thing has made me very on edge,” Robinson said. “I have had family members hospitalized. I also had COVID.”

These added struggles have made focusing in class difficult for Robinson.

“It’s like my brain hasn’t completely been there,” she said. “Pass/No Pass would be helpful to know that I won’t get penalized for the natural feelings I have.”

Robinson also noted the difficulties of the current deadline, emphasizing the February date did not grant enough time to accurately gauge how one would perform in the class.

The petition also highlighted how many students are also left to withdraw from courses if they cannot change their grade to Pass/No Pass, creating even more stress for students.

Regardless of the university’s current position, USG senators and students are still hoping to be granted an extension.

Students are invited to attend USG’s Special meeting on April 7 at 6 p.m. via Zoom as there will be an open forum and times for discussion.

This story was originally published April 6 and was updated April 7 to reflect information about USG’s Special Meeting.