Grading options expanded in face of COVID-19

Academic Affairs announces withdrawal deadline extension, “incomplete” option

Julia Battishill, News Editor

Seattle Pacific University vice provost for Academic Affairs, Cindy Price, sent an email to all students and faculty on the evening of June 4, announcing possible changes to how professors will decide final course grades for this spring quarter.

A second email, clarifying the first and offering additional support to students, was sent to students and faculty June 5. 

Most students will complete their coursework normally, but for students facing additional challenges this quarter, the options for an incomplete, a pass/no credit score or withdrawal from courses are more flexible.

The email advises speaking with Student Academic Services, as well as professors, before choosing any of these alternative options. 

This decision, according to the email, is in response to the combined pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequential lockdown, and the protests occurring worldwide in response to the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery. 

“A pandemic, economic strife and racial trauma and violence have framed this term in ways that may still be difficult to express,” Price wrote in the email. 

The email presented several options for students who may not be able to complete their coursework to the same standard that they otherwise would due to any number of these outside pressures. 

“For [some], because of current events, completing the term on time will be difficult, and we want you to know what options are available,” the email reads. 

If a student chooses an incomplete in a course, they must initiate that conversation with the appropriate professor. An incomplete allows more time in order to complete coursework. 

“If you select this option, you will create a plan to complete the course and identify a date by which all work will be completed,” the email explains. 

Students may also request a pass/no credit grading system for a class, but, as the email specifies, only if that option has been available for that course since at the beginning of the term.

If that option is available, students must select a “P” grade through Student Academic Services by Thursday, June 11, which is an extended deadline. 

The deadline for course withdrawal has also been extended to June 11. The email specifies that, though the options on banner may say a different deadline, withdrawals will be accepted until June 11.

The email also lists Dean of Student Life Chuck Strawn, Associate Vice President for Student Success Ruth Adams and University Chaplain Lisa Ishihara as resources for any questions or concerns students may have. 

The second email clarified that the extended deadlines can apply to any student that feels unable to complete the term in the normal manner, and that such students are advised to talk to each of their professors.

“In particular, we know that the events of this week have had disparate impacts for different students and that some of you are really struggling in this time,” Price wrote. 

The second email listed Price, Jordan and Mayo as resources for students who have concerns or need any further assistance through the end of the quarter.