SGA asks that UNO adopt an optional pass/fail system during the COVID-19 Pandemic

SGA Senator Desmond LeBlanc explains a resolution giving students the option to have their classes this semester graded by a Pass/Fail system.


Veronika Lee, Editor in Chief

The Student Government Association of UNO has put forth a resolution requesting that students have the option to be graded via a pass/fail system in order to accommodate the needs of many students who have been affected by the switch from in-person class meetings to all online class meetings. In the recently drafted resolution, SGA states: that students my opt in or out of the proposed grading system and “further recommends that the university registrar make a note on transcripts noting (COVID-19) beside each ‘Pass/Fail’ grade.”

SGA Senator Desmond LeBlanc, a junior Political Science (Pre-Law) major. The Senator from the College of Liberal Arts, Education & Human Development says, “My time in SGA has been so far a wonderful experience. I have really enjoyed two, soon to be three administrations and I am very appreciative that the student body has allowed me to serve them in this capacity. LeBlanc spoke to Driftwood about what SGA hopes to achieve via its proposal.

Has the resolution to adopt a pass/fail system been presented to university administration at this time? If so, have you received any feedback you can share with us?
At this time, the resolution is still going through the various stages within SGA so that it can become a compound resolution. According to the SGA adviser, it will be sent to administration for review next week.

Is it correct that students would have the option if they wanted to make their classes pass/fail? Students who chose to be graded by traditional means would have the option to do so?
In the resolution, it states that we want students to have the option of a pass/fail system. Students who want to be graded traditionally, should have the option to do so and students who want to switch to the pass/fail grading system should also have the option to do so. Everyone circumstances are very different and unique. This pandemic has thrown curve balls in everyone’s plans, some greater than others. We in SGA want to make sure that our student body know that we care about them and we are doing our part to make this untimely transition as smooth as we possibly can for them.

Are you being contacted by students who feel their only way of passing this semester will be to utilize this strategy?
We have heard from students that they would like to use the pass/fail system and also students, like myself who would like to stay on the traditional system. Each of us have our own reasons as to why we would like to switch to a pass/fail system and why we would like to keep the traditional system.

Do you believe that a pass/fail system may contribute to the notion that University of New Orleans is one of the least academically competitive schools in the area?
I do not feel as though the pass/fail system has to do with anything regarding how competitive our institution is. At this time, life as we know it has changed and SGA at our institution wants to do our part by listening to our student body and acting accordingly. This pass/fail system has been discussed on several occasions since the COVID-19 pandemic started and several universities have implemented the system. We just want to make sure that our students, no matter the issue that they are in, are covered and has options to make their educational experience at UNO less stressful as possible and if the option of pass/fail system will contribute to relieving stress then we are doing our job.

Why do you feel that the current policy of Withdraw with an asterisk on transcripts that denotes withdrawing because of coronavirus is problematic and that this proposed system would be better?
Just to be clear, we are advocating for the OPTION to implement the pass/fail system for our students, not to withdraw from classes or the institution. The asterisk denoting that this is due to the pandemic will give those who may need to send off their transcripts to other institutions the response regarding why they chose to use the Pass/Fail system. This resolution in no way is advocating for students to withdraw from classes or the institution.
Also, do you think students will be able to/should be able to receive some kind of refund for things such as facilities fees as they have only been able to utilize campus resources for several weeks this year? 
While this does not have to do with the Pass/Fail Resolution, in my personal opinion I believe the university should do what is right by the students that are enrolled and are paying these fees to utilize facilities on campus. Therefore, since our student body is no longer on campus and are no longer utilizing the campus according to what the fees are supposed to be for, then we should be reimbursed those fees.
Photo by Rubén Rodriguez on Unsplash