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Leaves from a nearby tree frame iconic Woodburn Hall in the heart of the West Virginia University campus.

WVU has decided it will be unable to implement a high pass/pass/fail grading system for fall 2020 or spring 2021 semester following a resolution from the WVU SGA.

“This HighPass/Pass/Fail grading system really means everything to students who are dealt a hand that is sort of a disadvantage,” said SGA Senator Amaya Jernigan, one of the resolution’s authors. “How do you expect them to focus on just your class when so many other elements and so many other factors are impacting them at the same exact time?” 

According to the legislation, these factors consisted of COVID-19, online/hybrid learning formats, the 2020 election, police brutality and xenophobia, all of which created unique challenges and adversities that students had to face. 

The legislation was co-authored by Jernigan, College Senator Ethan Cade, College Senator Hunter Moore and Senator Sarah Zanabli, and it was passed on Dec. 2.

Jernigan said that they received an email back from the University stating while they understood the stress students were under, they were unable to approve the application for high pass/pass/fail grading.

“Among the factors that contributed to this decision are: Many students have already withdrawn from the courses, often, with advisors' encouragement. Instituting HighPass/Pass/Fail at this point would disadvantage many students who withdrew because of concerns about lower grades, after being advised that it was their best and only academic option. WVU would be in a small minority of schools that have implemented some type of pass/fail grading for this semester,” according to the email received by the SGA.

According to the email, after reviewing the percentage of peer institutes using the grading system, the University believed that WVU graduates with multiple semesters of high pass/pass/fail on their transcripts would be at a disadvantage in comparison to other graduates. 

Jernigan believes the benefits outweigh any disadvantages that may come with the grading system. 

“It gives you a chance to replace your grade that you do receive with this HighPass/Pass/Fail to save GPAs, to save scholarships and to just give the students a fighting chance at the University,” Jernigan said.

Despite the University being unable to approve of the recommendation, Jernigan said the SGA will continue to advocate for pass/fail grading to be implemented for the spring 2021 semester. 

“We are going to keep pressing forward and keep finding things that we can use — that evidence, our research, facts — that we can throw into this, where we can really get our point across to the University because at this point it's not about being competitive,” Jernigan said. “It's about the well-being of our students here on campus.”