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UOSU also called for reduced workload and to identify synchronous courses. Image: UOSU Facebook/Provided

A large portion of the student body supports the demands made in the petition

The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) shared a petition on Nov. 20. demanding the university administration implement a modified pass or fail grading system for the fall 2020 semester, similar to the grading scheme used for the winter 2020 term. 

As such, the undergraduate student body has continued to echo the UOSU’s demands and as of Dec. 2, the petition has garnered over 5,000 signatures.

In the petition, the UOSU also called on the University of Ottawa administration to reduce the workload and identify synchronous courses on the class search tool, so that students are aware which classes have set times.

The UOSU wants to identify synchronous courses so that students can be aware of lecture time slots allowing them to better organize their class schedules. This would be especially beneficial for students residing in different time zones.

Tim Gulliver, the UOSU’s advocacy commissioner, said that he is “very grateful” so many students have added their names to the petition.

“Everyone I am speaking to is in awe about the sheer number of students who have agreed that this initiative is the way to go,” said Gulliver.

“[UOSU] is hoping that the university will be open to the pass [or] fail recommendation, in addition to our other recommendations, which we make in a constructive spirit.”

Isabelle Mailloux-Pulkinghorn, manager for media relations, spoke on behalf of the university via email, in response to the petition’s recent increase in signatures.

“Last spring a decision was made by the Senate to allow the satisfactory [or] unsatisfactory mark to be used, given the unique circumstances of the pandemic, which hit us close to the end of the winter 2020 semester.” 

Mailloux-Pulkinghorn reaffirmed in her statement that, “the university is aware of the petition and is looking into the matter.”

In a press release on Dec. 2, Gulliver and co-writer Nadine Olivier, director of communications for the UOSU, highlighted the petition’s demands and compared the adjustments made by other universities to the situation at U of O.  

“The adaptation to online learning during the pandemic for students has created unique challenges and disruptions that could not have been anticipated,” wrote Gulliver.

“The use of flexible compassionate grading options has been introduced in other universities, such as Carleton University which includes a use of pass [or] fail which we feel could be implemented at the University of Ottawa.”

“Students are desperate for help, and the university has the opportunity to send a powerful signal: students are heard and understood, by offering the same flexible, compassionate grading system that Carleton students are receiving.” 

As of Dec 2. the university has not made an official decision on whether or not to adopt the petition’s demands.