Students Want Spring to Be “Pass/Fail”

Joshua Ceballos and Gabriella Pinos/PantherNOW Staff

Updated March 19, 5:31 p.m.

Elizabeth Bejar, senior vice president of Academic and Student Affairs, released a statement on FIU’s Twitter and Instagram story regarding the pass/fail petition. “All recommendations that support the quality teaching and learning environment and support student success will be considered but we will do so thoughtfully and carefully,” she said.

Original Story:

As universities around the country adapt to remote learning, some FIU students think the university needs to change the way students receive grades.

So they made a petition.

Justine Ortiz, a senior and public relations, advertising and applied communication major, said she created the petition to communicate students’ academic concerns to the University. She also cites FIU’s lack of transparency and communication with their community as one of the reasons why extra leeway was necessary.

“A lot of people are not being considered in the sense of, we’re all stressed and the last thing on our mind is, in a national pandemic or a world pandemic in that case, classwork or homework,” said Ortiz. “It’s more about safety and taking the necessary precautions to be safe and to have the necessary resources to withstand whatever period we are in isolation.”

Ortiz also reached out to members of SGA, including SGC-MMC President Sabrina Rosell, about the petition. 

In response, SGA College of Arts, Sciences & Education Senator of  Bryan Gomez put out a survey about the topic asking how students feel about the idea of the pass/fail semester and what other options might be possible. 

Gomez told PantherNOW that some people have answered the survey and said a pass/fail system would erase all of the hard work they’ve done this semester, and so he and other senators would rather look at all of the possible options.

“They didn’t share the same viewpoints as I did, so they created [the survey] just to make sure that everyone is aware of the severity of what a pass or fail system would entitle,” said Ortiz.

The petition as of publishing time has received much attention, garnering over 11,000 signatures since it was created. It was widespread across group chats and on Twitter, so much so that it sparked a counter petition asking the University to keep the semester grading scale as is.

“Unemployment might rise to 20 percent according to the treasury secretary,” said Christopher Larsen, a junior and journalism major, who supports Ortiz’s petition. “Grades are just not as important as living and being able to keep a roof over your head and eating.”

Other students, however, disagree with implementing a pass/fail system for the semester. Antonio Soza, a junior and philosophy major, said that doing so would unfairly generalize student academics.

“It is upsetting that students want to take advantage of this crisis and circumvent the process to obtain grades they don’t deserve. Most students have been offered means to study from home and if they have not come forward to inform that their needs have not been met, that’s on them,” said Soza.

Other students have also expressed concern that a pass/fail semester would harm their chances for graduate school, especially those who want to boost their GPA.

“I think that switching to pass/fail will be unfair to many students that need their letter grade to enter a graduate program, or for other students like me that want to apply for medical school and need a letter grade to appear in their transcripts,” said Mila Broche, a psychology major and pre-med student in her junior year.

Ortiz, who is currently obtaining her master’s degree in global strategic communications through FIU’s 4+1 program, said this shouldn’t be the case for all graduate programs since pass/fail courses do not affect student GPA. She also stressed the benefits the new system would have toward students who are going through difficult circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In times like these, you can’t really think of yourself, because it not only affects you, it affects everyone around you, so thinking of the community as a whole and what’s gonna benefit the community best is probably what we should be working toward, said Ortiz.

A spokesperson from FIU Media Relations said that the University is aware of the petition, but “we have not made any final decisions.” “All recommendations that support the quality teaching and learning environment and support student success will be considered but we will do so thoughtfully and carefully,” they said via email.

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