Although the switch to virtual instruction’s faults do not fall on a singular entity — The Cal Poly Pomona community is circulating and signing a petition that’s gaining rapid popularity, seeking academic flexibility from the school with the reinstatement of multiple grading options.
Paul Holden, a fifth-year aerospace engineering student, created the online petition in hopes of persuading the school to change grading options for the fall semester for a credit/no credit grade.
“I believe that reinstating the grading scale that was gifted to us in the spring semester is the best way to provide that help for the school and its students,” Holden said.
Students last semester were given three options to decide how they would like to be graded. The first option allowed students to keep the standardized letter grading from A to F. The second option offered a no credit grade for a letter grade below C and the third option was a credit or no credit option for all spring courses.
Within the first two weeks, the petition gathered 2600 signatures.
The outcry has caught the attention of the CPP’s Office of Student Success, according to Terri Gomez, associate provost for student success, equity and innovation, who dealt with the chancellor’s executive order for a change in grading policies last semester.
“We know our students were in crisis, we knew our professors were not as familiar with the tools, so we wanted to give them a chance to ease their anxiety last semester,” Gomez said.
Still, the issue this semester, Gomez added, is out of the university’s hands.
“There was an executive order called EO1037 which provides guidelines and policies regarding grading, but this policy has been suspended by the chancellor’s office,” she said.
This executive order passed by the California State University chancellor in the spring allowed individual campus administrations to quickly change the grading system and allow for those changes to take effect on campus.
With many students being affected differently in their majors, the absence of this grading option for the fall semester makes it more difficult for some to maintain a stable learning experience and puts the grades of these students at risk.
Charisma Byrd, a fifth-year exercise science and chemistry student, questions the CSU system’s logic on not taking action on this issue.
“The switch to remote learning has impacted my learning experience,” said Byrd. “With virtual labs and at-home experiments, my advanced chemistry courses are now conducted from my living room. The pass/fail option allows students to feel seen and heard by the administration during these unprecedented times. Reminding academia that we are more than students and should have the ability to choose our academic legacy.”
Similarly, Aaron Vigilante, a third-year mechanical engineering student, is frustrated with learning from YouTube videos and running complicated experiments from his home. This, he said, jeopardizes both his mental health and future.
“Some classes just do not transition well to a virtual platform such as labs. The difficult transition ultimately makes it harder on the student to learn about the subject,” said Vigilante. “The option should be available by the system for those who have not yet transitioned or simply prefer an in person learning environment to protect the integrity of a student’s GPA.”
Elenna Toroosian, a third-year political science major who transferred this fall from community college, believes the CSU system should do all that is possible to bring the grading options back and help those making transitions like hers smoother.
“This option should be considered so students don’t fall behind or have a false representation of their knowledge due to standard letter grading,” said Toroosian, “This option helped me and others in my community college and it would certainly help us again through these unsettling times.”
With students voicing their opinions and from their homes, Lucy Yu, ASI president, encouraged students to express their opinions so their voices can reach continue to reach administration across the CSU system.
“When it comes to credit/no credit grading, there are a lot of students going through a lot of different physical, mental, emotional blockades that we have never gone through as students
before,” said Yu. “Petitions are one of the best ways students can gather together and communicate to administration. Our first step is to sit down and have this conversation, and that’s where the real work is going to start.”
As of writing this article, there have been no announcements from the CPP administration or the CSU system indicating a modified grade option.
The opportunity to choose among the three available grading options for a student’s spring grades are available until Dec. 13. Students can find more information on these options by visiting https://www.cpp.edu/studentsuccess/credit-nocredit/.
(Feature image courtesy of Tim Gouw)
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