KU Students Successfully Push To Extend The Credit/No Credit Deadline

Lawrence, KS — In April, student groups such as Student Senate and Jayhawks for Bernie ran a pressure campaign to extend the deadline for students to opt to change a course’s grading system to a credit, no credit for the spring 2020 semester. With the campaign ultimately ending with the extension of the deadline to December.

But the effort to push for an inclusive pass or fail system began in late March, when the student group Jayhawks for Bernie made a group chat called COVID-19 Response Requests to begin an organization effort between Jayhawks for Bernie, Student Senate, and all interested students with the goals of having KU adopt a pass or fail system for all classes, giving refunds to students for services KU is no longer providing due to the closure of campus, and making sure KU’s workers are taken care of. The public group chat eventually grew to 69 members sharing their experiences during the pandemic and brainstorming ways to help others remotely.

The empty outdoor plaza next to the Kansas Union. Before the pandemic Student Senate would meet every other Wednesday inside the Kansas Union. May 15, 2020 (Wesley Cudney)

Student Body President-elect Apramay Mishra said in an interview about the campaign, “Obviously groups which really took a lead like I would say Jayhawks for Bernie and had a huge role in in getting the policy pushed back because they created that COVID-19 group me and they really started the organizing efforts.”

When the original deadline was announced as April 17, many students were confused due to the vague language of the policy and the Business School initially chose to not offer credit, no credit at all, said Student Body President-elect Mishra. He said that the original deadline was three weeks before students would be able to know how the COVID-19 epidemic and transition to online classes would affect their grade before making the decision. And that it was not comparable to the credit, no credit policies of peer institutions such as Kansas-State or Oklahoma State.

Wescoe Beach, empty on a weekday due to the closing of campus during the pandemic. Friday May 15, 2020 (Wesley Cudney)

Wescoe Beach, empty on a weekday due to the closure of campus. By Wesley Cudney

Student Body President-elect Mishra said that this led campus organizations to start an email campaign to the provost’s office and the different dean’s offices on campus to push the deadline back said Student Body President-elect Mishra.

While students were sending their stories to the provost’s office, Student Body President Tiara Floyd, Student Body Vice President Seth Wingerter, and Student Senate Chief of Staff Zach Thompson held a virtual meeting with Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer early in the morning on April 20 to discuss moving the credit, no credit option and to voice student concerns. Student Senate Chief of Staff Zach Thompson told the COVID-19 Response Requests group chat on April 20 about the meeting with the provost and said, “I don’t want to speak and get hopes up, but I do feel comfortable enough to suspect we will see SOME positive changes in the next 24 hours.”

Student Senate Chief of Staff Zack Thompson updating the COVID-19 Response Requests group chat on the meeting with Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer. (Screenshot by Wesley Cudney)

The next day on April 21, Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer sent out an email to KU students saying that she has heard many stories from students on how the pandemic has affected them and that the deadline for credit, no credit has been moved to December 18 for most students with graduating students having until May 29 to opt in for credit, no credit. Student Body President-elect Mishra said that he has no complaints about the new deadline and that he was grateful that the provost was receptive to student concerns.  

Concerning the next semester, Student Body President-elect said that Student Senate will continue follow the guidelines set by the provost on the reopening of in-person classes and clubs. And that Student Senate, if it needs too, will continue operating remotely. He also said on student confidence in themselves, “Now we don’t know if how soon it’ll be or if there will be a normal, like what we were used to but, what I think we’ll see what I hope we’ll see is that there’s a renewed sense of student confidence in the fall in the university if we take the appropriate measures to react to whatever sort of situation comes at us.” He also said, “Honestly if they they’re able to make it through a semester like this then I don’t see what’s going to stop them.”

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