The student senate passed a recommendation to adopt a pass/fail grading scale for this semester during its meeting on Wednesday.
In the town hall happening simultaneously, Provost Bill Tate said the university had a committee explore the pass/fail option but decided against it.
The author of the recommendation, second-year political science and psychology student Riley Rodgers, said she saw a Change.org petition for a pass/fail option at USC with hundreds of signatures. A recommendation "[expresses] the desire of the Student Senate directly or indirectly to an individual or separate body."
“If I see something like that, that students are advocating for so much, what I'm supposed to do is I'm supposed to come in here and do what I can to help them,” Rodgers said.
Another factor in writing this legislation, Rodgers said, is that many students were caught off-guard by the rate at which classes are offered online this semester.
“About late July or mid-August we were notified of class after class after class moving online. I personally don't have a single in-person class. Even the one I was supposed to have in person ended up moving online once we came back to campus,” Rodgers said.
The bill will now be distributed to university officials, who might or might not choose to act upon it.
“What we need, ultimately, is recognition from the university about this, in order to get anything done,” Rodgers said.
The senate also voted not to condemn the actions of students who attended tailgates or other large gatherings in a 20-19 vote.
Speaker of the student senate J.D. Jacobus said it is not the student senate’s place to condemn students.
“Remember that we are here to advocate for students. We are here to represent them,” Jacobus said. “I do not think we should be condemning students. In my mind, that would be like if I hired a lobbying group, and they told me that I was wrong — it’d be a little strange.”
Student senator Caitlyn Johnson, the author of the resolution and a second-year biology student, created the legislation in order to take a stand against students' actions that specifically went against CDC guidelines.
“You should be condemning the things that are specifically spreading coronavirus and are being harmful to the community,” Johnson said.
Jacobus said condemnation was not the most effective route to change.
“I think that educating students on the wrongs of this would be much more effective than condemning these actions, and I think all that would lead to, essentially, is just isolating a lot of students from Student Gov," Jacobus said.
The senate tabled last week's recommendation to lift the mask mandates at Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center and Blatt PE Center. The bill’s co-authors, second-year students Matt Harris and John Hladun, said they learned additional information that makes the bill unnecessary as it is. Masks are optional when doing cardio and in the pool area, according to Harris.
The pair has discussed updating the gyms’ signage with director of Campus Recreation Mitch Nettesheim to more accurately reflect these guidelines, they said.
“We've been emailing back and forth, and kind of just trying to work out, you know, what verbiage would be best in a concise manner to kind of have posted internally, within Strom and Blatt, and then also on the website,” Hladun said.
Hladun said he expected legislation addressing this issue to arise in the future.