Shane Auberger lost his mother in February 2019, so he surrounded himself with close friends and colleagues on campus to cope. Once COVID-19 forced students to isolate, even that was taken away.
His 15-year-old chihuahua, Linda, died Tuesday.
Amid his grief, the 21-year-old UF electrical engineering senior must balance working at Publix and Summer courses during the COVID-19 pandemic. He and other students say they would benefit from the option to take their courses for S/U, or pass/fail, credit—but UF won't budge.
“The special S/U option was given in consideration of the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic and the sudden transition of coursework,” wrote UF Spokesperson Steve Orlando in a text. “This summer, students knew about the pandemic and the configuration of their coursework before starting.”
UF gave students the pass/fail option for the Spring semester to ease stress amid the pandemic, which Auberger said would significantly help him and others over Summer as well. Pass/fail grades do not carry grade point values and are not computed into a GPA, but courses with a grade of S (Satisfactory) will count as credits earned in a degree program.
Auberger said it’s not right that UF is still requiring the completion of nine credits over the Summer for course requirements in order to graduate.
“There are a lot of things that people are dealing with right now, and I believe that pass/fail should be an option considering what the world is going through,” Auberger said.
In the Spring semester, Sol Pickman, a recent 23-year-old UF graduate, created a petition pushing for a Spring pass/fail option and got over 18,000 signatures within the first 24 hours. Pickman said she created the petition with the knowledge that many students did not have the same resources as she did due to COVID-19.
“I knew that libraries were closing and places that usually have Wi-Fi were closing, and students didn’t have all the resources they would normally have access to during the semester,” Pickman said.
Pickman said she hoped the university would have given students the pass/fail option over the Summer because not much has changed since Spring. She added that she thought the university handled the Spring semester well, and there was no perfect answer on how to deal with the uncertainty everyone faced.
Auberger said because there is currently no option for S/U over this Summer, he decided to create a petition of his own asking for UF to make the Summer courses pass/fail.
As of Thursday, Aubergers' petition for Summer pass/fail has 33 signatures. Auberger said ideally he hopes for a few thousand signatures at least.
“I want UF to know that the policy regarding Summer required coursework is not right during times like these,” Auberger said.
Auberger said that there are a lot of students who are not acquainted with learning online, and with online classes being the only option for the Summer, students are forced into tough conditions in order to graduate. Auberger added that if students could not complete this, it could delay them a year or set them back financially.
Auberger said he was taking seven credits but dropped four credits when he lost his mom. He added that he is hopeful the petition will pass and believes the university will be understanding.
Jenna Skop, a 20-year-old UF business administration junior, said although she doesn’t feel like the pass/fail option will benefit her over the Summer, she can see how the option would benefit others. Skop said she is only taking a media law course and that she wants the grade in the class for her GPA.
“Since everything is online, it may be a lot harder for students who are used to taking classes in person,” Skop said. “I feel like it should be a definite option to help people.”