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Update: Graduate students now able to choose grade

Photo by Soham Parikh | The Wright State Guardian

Online classes| Photo by Soham Parikh | The Wright State Guardian

Marissa Couch contributed to this story.

Wright State University announced that graduate students would have the option to switch courses to a pass/unsatisfactory grading scale. 

The news came on April 7, almost two weeks since undergraduate students were given the option as well.

According to the release, pass or grade of P is equal to a “C” or higher. Any unsatisfactory or “U” grade will not apply to a degree and additionally, neither P nor U will count toward GPA points. 

Students will have until May 15 to make the decision on any chosen classes, excluding any terms that concluded before March 9.

The release encourages students to consult their advisor before making any decisions to ensure that they understand how it will impact their course completion moving forward.

This story was originally published March 25:

Makenzie Hoeferlin and Clare O’Toole contributed to this story.

Wright State University is now offering students the option to receive a pass/unsatisfactory grade for any and all spring semester courses in light of the coronavirus pandemic.  

In a campus-wide email sent out today, Dr. Douglas Leaman, interim provost of Wright State University, recognized the concerns of many students regarding grades and disruptions to coursework due to the evolving coronavirus pandemic.

To abate anxiety about grades and grade point average, Dr. Leaman made the decision to give students the option to take a ‘Pass/Unsatisfactory’ grade as their final course grade, rather than a normal letter grade of A, B, C, D or F. 

In the same effort to assuage student stress, the deadline to withdraw from any spring semester course has also been postponed three weeks until April 17, according to the email. 

“Grades of C or higher for a course for which a student elects the Pass/Unsatisfactory grade will convert to a P. F grades will automatically be converted to U, and students can elect to convert a D grade to a U,” according to the email. “Students will receive credit for courses for which they earn a P, but will not receive credit for courses in which they receive a U. Neither P or U grades will impact the student’s grade point average.”

The interim provost explained in his email that ‘faculty will submit their course grades’ by May 6, and that students “will then have until noon on May 15 to decide to change one or more of their courses to a Pass/Unsatisfactory grade.”

Students may convert as many courses as they wish and may make an individual decision for every course. 

Leaman encourages all students to consult with their academic advisor through the remote advising currently being offered by the university to confirm what taking a Pass/Unsatisfactory grade instead of a typical letter grade may mean for “course prerequisites, course repeats, program requirements, and post-graduation opportunities for licensure, graduate school, and employment.”

Any questions about scholarships and financial aid eligibility are to be directed to Raider Connect. 

This new grading program does not apply to the Spring 2020 A term or any classes completed before March 9. 

A similar program is being looked into for the graduate program, but currently, this does not apply to classes above 4999.

A student petition

Last Wednesday night, Wright State student Dawson Draper started a petition to move all Wright State classes to a pass/fail system for spring 2020. 

Amid all the concerns of the spread of coronavirus, face-to-face classes have been cancelled, bars and restaurants have been closed, and the graduation ceremony has been suspended until further notice. 

“All of this in the name of public health, which is a worthy cause,” according to the petition. 

Students understand the drastic measures the university must take, but just like many others, it has caused upheaval to their lives. 

“For many of us, these bars, and restaurants, the retailers and campus positions were our livelihoods, our sources of income,” according to the petition. “While yesterday, the most pressing issue for us was when we would have time to study, today our most pressing issue is how we will pay rent.” 

According to the petition, students are not acting to blame, but to request extraordinary measures for extraordinary circumstances. 

Students are asking for the university to move to a pass/fail system for spring semester for the mental health of the students at Wright State University. 

“We ask this as a gesture to alleviate mental health issues that this is already causing,” according to the petition. “We ask this so that we may focus on the most pressing issues at hand. We ask this for the seniors who otherwise would have maintained a 4.0 GPA and the students who need this to avoid academic probation. We ask this from the position of students who have already given up so much and have just accepted the daily upheaval of life due to no fault of our own.” 

The petition was started on March 18 but has since been closed after reaching a little over 500 signatures. 

Student reactions

Wright State students have mixed opinions about the petition.

“I think it is completely unfair to us students that work our butts off to get A’s and B’s in order to get a high GPA,” said WSU student Alexis Hobbs. “I understand that these are unprecedented times, but our professors are working as hard as they can to keep our classes going and students are working hard to keep up with assignments. It is only fair to students to keep the traditional grading system.” 

Another Wright State Student, Jacob O’Connor, is concerned with the consequences of the request of the petition being put into action. He says that classes moving to a pass/fail system would nullify hard work and dedication that students have put into their work thus far. 

“Some are working on capstones, raising their GPA, and working hard to get the most out of their classes that their professors have worked tirelessly to create,” said O’Connor. “I encourage students to think on this subject and make an educated decision before signing something that could change so much for so many.” 

The Student Government Association is aware of the petition and will advocate for students. 

“Student government sees the petition about changing classes to P/F for this semester,” said Student Government President Ivan Mallett. “This is a complex issue that has many implications, all of which must be carefully considered. This is a topic that was brought up during a planning meeting today and options are being looked at and discussed carefully. The university is aware of the difficult circumstances that students are in and we are continuing to advocate on your behalf.” 

University President Susan Edwards took to Twitter to address students and the petition. 

“As always I am listening to our student body,” said Edwards. “I want you to know that there are consequences associated with sweeping blanket decisions, especially for students who may wish to pursue post graduate education. Therefore we are seriously examining the consequences of such actions.” 

What are other colleges doing?

Three Ohio colleges are now allowing a pass/fail grading system for the spring semester due to the disruption of coronavirus to the classrooms. 

At Ohio State University, the college of arts and sciences is allowing students to opt-in or opt-out of the particular grading system. 

Northern Kentucky University students have also started a petition asking for this “opt-in pass/fail” grading system. 

Students at Georgetown University and the University of Pennsylvania have also begun petitions toward different grading systems. 

Bigger name colleges such a Smith, Duke, MIT and Vanderbilt have all shifted to another form of grading similar to pass/fail. These institutions are also allowing students to request letter grades if they choose to do so. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness spread between people in close contact with each other or through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. To protect yourself and those around you, cover coughs and sneezes and avoid contact with the eyes, nose and mouth. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)