Students, senators petition for pass/no pass extension

Mikena Moore, a freshman majoring in business administration, began the petition because of ongoing coronavirus concern. (Amanda Chou | Daily Trojan file photo)

An online student-run petition calling for USC to extend the pass/no pass deadline for this semester amassed 1,515 signatures at the time of publication. The petition asks for the deadline to select a pass/no pass grading option to be extended until April 15. 

Typically, the deadline is the end of the third week of classes. Students had the option to choose pass/no pass grading for any class, including major classes and electives in every semester between Spring 2020 and Fall 2021, up to 32 units. The deadline for Fall 2021 to select the grading option was the final day of classes. For Spring 2022, the deadline was extended following the two-week remote start to Feb. 11, the end of the fifth week of classes. 

Mikena Moore, a freshman majoring in business administration, created the petition last weekend. Moore, currently in her first semester at USC, said she has struggled academically this semester after some obstacles. 

“I’ve had COVID twice this semester and that’s four weeks, which was obviously detrimental to every class,” Moore said. “I looked at the other petitions [from past semesters] and got some ideas and started writing it.” 

After she posted about it on social media, other students reached out to her to express their support. Overall, student reactions have been mixed. Some petition viewers expressed negative reactions, writing comments such as “this is the most annoying thing I’ve ever seen” and “you guys are all lazy.” Moore said that although some people write positive comments, others may be afraid to support the petition.

Nikita Mei, a freshman majoring in computer engineering and computer science, expressed support for the extension. She said after two weeks of remote learning, much of which consisted of review of previous material, it was hard for her to tell whether to select pass/no pass for her classes.

“I can’t tell based off of review how well I’m going to do in that class,” Mei said. “Also, COVID was such a huge thing. Like we didn’t even know if we were going to come back. And now [coronavirus restrictions] are such a small thing; Trojan Check is gone, all these different things with COVID are gone. Why can’t we change the grading scale for those that are affected by COVID?”

As the deadline extension petition circulated online, the Undergraduate Student Government unanimously passed a resolution supporting “petition recognition” at its Senate meeting Tuesday night. The resolution calls for University administration to “implement a framework for petition recognition and acknowledgment that requires a University-wide email response to petitions that receive a minimum of 1500 signatures.”

In addition to the signature requirement, the USG resolution stated that petitions must “explicitly reference” some specific policy, department or action, contain a call to action and must “seek to advance the University priorities outlined in the University Mission Statement” in order to warrant a response from administration.

Senator Victor Ye, inaugurated Tuesday, introduced the pass/no pass extension resolution. His proposed resolution, which he co-wrote with fellow senator Alvaro Flores, stated that administration should extend the deadline due to the two week delay of in-person instruction, the removal of the mask mandate, difficulties faced by spring admits and professors changing learning modalities. Ye and his running mate, senator Jessica Gonzalez, campaigned on extending the pass/no pass deadline. 

“There’s a lot of support from every senator and every person that believes in the understanding for those who have been affected, whether they’re immunocompromised students, those that are spring admits and those that are regular students that are facing medical emergencies,” Ye said. “There are a lot of different complications this semester that I think should not be overlooked.”

In a statement to the Daily Trojan, the University said they will not be changing or extending the current Pass/No Pass grading policy.

“We are returning to normal grading practices in the interest of equity for all students,” the statement read. “We advise students to talk with their academic advisors to determine their options.”

The USG senate will hold an emergency meeting Thursday to discuss the pass/no pass resolution, “Extension of Pass/No Pass Grading Option for Spring 2022 Semester.” The resolution rides on the coattails of the petition Moore created, Ye said.

“The fact is that … this is not a first-time scenario — extensions of pass/no pass have been happening for the past three semesters, especially for the last semesters, that extended all the way to the last day of class,” Ye said. “Currently, we’re still on the trajectory of trying to extend the pass/no pass deadline as late as possible.”

Christina Chkarboul contributed to this report. 

Editor’s note: A previous version of the article stated that USG intends to debate the resolution addressing the pass/no pass extension next Tuesday. The resolution will be discussed Thursday at the emergency senate meeting.

This story was updated at 1:19 a.m. to reflect that the petition has accumulated more than 1,500 signatures.

This story was updated at 10:55 a.m. to include a statement from the University.