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Email campaign and petition created by EMU students opposing pass/fail deadline not being extended

Feedback from EMU students has been initiated after an University email announcement about the Winter 2021 pass/fail option deadline not being extended to the end of the semester.

An email campaign and a petition was started by Eastern Michigan University students after hearing that the pass/fail grading option deadline was not going to be extended to the end of the semester.

The pass/fail grading option allows students to be able to opt into a pass or a fail on their transcript for specific classes instead of having a letter grade. Due to COVID-19, this option has helped students during the hard times of the pandemic and other life circumstances.

Student Government unanimously voted yes on March 9 to pass Resolution 107-05 which was authored by Speaker of the Senate Auryon Azar and Vice President Colton Ray. Resolution 107-05 calls upon the University to extend and have a conversation with Student Government regarding the Pass/Fail deadline.

Shortly after Resolution 107-05 being passed, EMU’s Office of Records and Registration announced via University Communication’s email on March 24, 2021, that the pass/fail option deadline was not going to be extended to the end of the semester and had already passed at this time.

Early College Alliance (ECA) student, Brianna Davis, started a petition on Change.org after reading the email sent out to students. The petition asks for signatures to support the need for the pass/fail option deadline to be extended for EMU students.

In the petition details, Davis states, “Currently, EMU students are trying their best to work in the conditions we've been given under COVID-19 and it is unfair to us to not have this option available.”

The petition currently has over 750 signatures and gathered a lot of attention from EMU students. Reasons for signing the petition are also included on the petition’s website that voice student’s concerns about how hard online learning and this semester has been for them.

After hearing student feedback regarding the pass/fail option deadline not being extended, three Student Government members Senator Jeffrey Hoang, Senator Eva Long, and Speaker Azar created an email campaign. 

“I wanted to start the email campaign to try and convince the Faculty Senate and Provost that students deserved more of a voice in deciding their academic future. I truly think that students who are legal adults should have the final say and opinion on how things affect their lives. Of course, I understand Dr. Longworth's concerns and I think a great solution would be to require academic advisors to meet about any pass/fail option taken by specific students. We want Dr. Longworth and the Faculty Senate to reconsider their decision not to extend the pass/fail option deadline and actually discuss further with EMU Student Government,” Hoang said.

Azar, Hoang, and Long are asking EMU students to sign the petition started by Davis and emailing the following emails why the pass/fail option is important to them as students:

Provost, Dr. Rhonda Longworth: rkinney@emich.edu

President of the Faculty Senate, Suzanne Gray: sgray17@emich.edu

Vice President of the Faculty Senate, Dr. Marilyn Corsianos: mcorsiano@emich.edu

Secretary of the Faculty Senate, Rebecca Spragg: rspragg@emich.edu

Students are also being asked to Cc Senator Hoang: jhoang1@emich.edu in the email in order to keep progress of the campaign. Any questions about the campaign can be sent to Speaker Azar at aazar1@emich.edu

“Students should participate to make sure the Faculty Senate and Provost hear the real stories about peoples' academic and professional futures that could be affected by the pass/fail option deadline not being extended, as well as on how badly this semester has challenged all of us during a pandemic,” Hoang said.

The hope in getting students to participate in the email campaign is that the Provost and Faculty Senate will listen to EMU students' stories and how they are affected by the pass/ fail option deadline not being able to be extended.

Geoff Larcom, the Director of Media Relations at EMU, commented on behalf of the University administration leadership:

  • “The University’s central goal is to support students’ long-term academic success as much as possible. Providing a well-understood grading and transcripting process is important to maintaining the value and accuracy of grading information used by future graduate and professional schools, by scholarship and aid providers, as well as future employers.

  • Pass-fail grading is available in the winter semester under regular deadlines. Deadlines were extended in the fall semester because course delivery methods were unfamiliar in many cases and had to be modified well after registration took place. Also, this was a course of action taken by a majority of peer institutions, so most institutions would be familiar with the challenges that prompted a more frequent use of this credit last fall.

  • The key difference in the winter semester is that methods of delivery were published in advance and weren’t modified during the semester, as was the case last fall. Students who registered had the normal period to elect pass-fail grading. 

  • So, this winter semester, unlike last fall, which was a more fluid situation, students had all the necessary deadlines, information, and instruction modes at the time of class registration.

  • Naturally, if there are individual exceptions where changes occurred in a class situation, the University would consider those situations as exceptions. Regarding other deadlines, the University gave flexibility when possible.

  • In adopting this course of action, University leadership reviewed actions taken by other public universities in Michigan. The University continues to consult the Faculty Senate on grading and other instructional matters.”

Due to the end of the Winter 2021 semester approaching, Long, Azar, Hoang are asking EMU students to participate in their campaign and send out emails soon. The Summer 2021 semester’s deadline for declaring pass/fail is May 14.