This has been one hell of a year. No shock comes from that statement, especially from students.
With the risk of COVID-19 exposure darkly looming over the heads of universities, many have decided to send their students home and move to remote-learning beginning at the spring of this year. The UC system has implemented remote learning for the rest of the year with the spikes of cases we’ve seen recently.
Eight out of the 10 universities in the UC system have given their students flexible Pass/No Pass grading. UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara are the only two that haven’t given their students any flexibility on their grading options.
As a university that claims to be one of servitude to their students, UCSB not giving the option of flexible grading during a pandemic doesn’t exactly scream support.
Many students have voiced how much harder it has been for them to academically succeed.
A lot of students take refuge in college as being “a home away from home” and I have seen (not only firsthand but from hearing from others) how much being home is taking a toll on their mental health and academics. With students voicing their opinions on the harsh reality of online learning, many universities have decided to support their students by giving them flexible grading options, like Pass/No Pass. This kind of flexibility gives students one less thing to worry about during these harsh times.
Letter grades can’t possibly accurately represent the success of a student with the number of challenges that are currently being presented. Students are having to move back home, where they have to take on other responsibilities beyond being a student. Responsibilities like watching over younger siblings, taking care of family that have been exposed to COVID-19 or even worse dealing with losing someone from the virus. Some might even have to move back to homes that aren’t a safe space.
Success in this kind of learning environment is dependent upon having a stable internet connection, a working computer, and a space that is conducive to productivity. Online learning is also incredibly difficult for those whose studies need physical hands-on interaction like labs, field work or work that require collaboration. The demand is not only heavy on students but faculty as well. Some students rely heavily on campus resources that can only be accessed by being physically on campus.
Letter grades can be damaging to students’ grade point averages, and these can in turn also affect any scholarships that a student might have. For example, for those who are eligible for grants like Cal Grant or Pell Grant, our GPA decides whether or not we receive the money. For a lot of students these scholarships are what they rely on to be able to attend school.
I’m calling upon you, the UCSB administration, to support their students by giving us the flexibility of Pass/No Pass for the current quarter and any that become remotely taught as well.