SDSU extends credit/no credit grading option, keeps spring break

by Patrick Doyle, Staff Writer

In a Nov. 10 meeting, the San Diego State University Senate voted to extend the deadline to register for the credit/no credit grading option to Dec. 10 and rejected a motion that would eliminate spring break for the spring 2021 semester.

The credit/no credit option allows undergraduate students to change the grading system of certain classes to give credits for completion at a grade of C (2.0) or higher rather than a traditional letter grade. It is different from pass/fail, as a C- and below would not yield any credit.

For graduate students a passing grade is set at a B and any letter grade lower than a B- would yield no credit.

The decision comes after a difficult fall semester which created many of the same challenges for students that appeared in the spring when the pandemic first began, which caused the university to extend the credit/no credit option then as well. These challenges include weak internet connection causing students to be dropped from Zoom meetings or exams, difficulty focusing on the new online material, and a lack of clarity on how classes would function in an online environment before registering.

SDSU students of varying backgrounds voiced their support for the motion during public comment in the senate meeting.

“There have been scientifically studied detrimental effects faced by students who have been affected by the isolation of the online learning environment.” Political science sophomore Robson Winter said. “There are so many very real-life events that have occurred this semester that have a significant negative impact on students and their ability to learn.”

Other students recounted their disappointment in the lack of preparation staff exhibited in some classes.

“Although the university may believe they’ve done everything in their power to prepare faculty and to reciprocate teaching in a virtual environment,” political science and history sophomore Guan Liu said, “The reality is the quality of instruction is simply not the same.”

The senate, which approved a similar credit/no credit extension when the pandemic first hit in the spring, similarly voiced their support, with several senators yielding their time for more students to speak.

The motion to push the credit/no credit deadline until Dec. 10 was passed with 56 yes votes, seven no votes, and six abstentions.

Additionally, the senate also voted on a motion to extend winter break by an additional week and eliminate spring break for the spring 2021 semester. The justification was that a week off in the middle of the semester may cause many students living on campus to travel and bring COVID-19 back with them to the dorms and on-campus residences. 

“With them leaving for a potential spring break,” Director of Student Health Services Libby Skiles said, “There is great risk in terms of when they come back and the exposures that they’ve had, the significant testing that would be needed, and the potential risk that that poses both to other students as well as to our faculty/staff.”

Several senators echoed a similar concern, but students came to voice their opposition to this change.

“A student can currently travel anywhere… so this solution doesn’t really solve the problem of public health, and it actually creates a problem of mental health,” said Associated Students President Christian Holt. “This is not just a student issue. Faculty and staff have felt the effects of this pandemic as well. Being overworked and overloaded, working from home. So it’s important that we see that this decision will impact the entirety of our campus.”

Some senators had reservations about the motion as well.

“Spring break often comes at a critical point where people are pretty exhausted,” Senate Vice-chair Nola Butler-Byrd said. “And since we’re already in heavy-duty burnout mode from being online and being sequestered because of COVID-19, I have a real problem with just eliminating it totally.”

The motion to eliminate spring break and extend winter break was rejected by the senate, with 26 yes votes, 47 no votes, and 11 abstentions.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated Nov. 12 at 11 a.m.

The original article misstated the minimum letter grade requirement to earn credit in a credit/no credit course. Students would need to earn a grade of C or higher. Anything below a C- would yield no credit. The Daily Aztec regrets this error.