Sac State ASI in favor of credit/no credit option

97% of survey respondents in favor of credit/no credit

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Vice President of Finance Prabhjyot Shinh said that due to the lack of travel this year, the university’s travel funds are not being utilized in Sac State’s ASI meeting Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 via Zoom. The Board of Directors discussed multiple ways to help students during the virtual semester, including its support for students to receive a credit/no credit option for their grades.

Mercy Sosa, news editor

Sacramento State’s Associated Students, Inc. Board of Directors discussed multiple ways to help students during the virtual semester, including its support for students to receive a credit/no credit option for their grades in its working board meeting Wednesday via Zoom.

The State Hornet put together a recap of what was discussed in the meeting. 

Board and students in favor of credit/no credit 

Credit/no credit was an option offered to students at Sac State April 23 due to the challenges students faced during the transition to a virtual semester caused by the pandemic. For students who chose credit/no credit in spring 2020, grades A through C- were converted to credit, and grades D+ or below were converted to no credit. 

RELATED: Sac State to implement optional credit/no credit system for most undergraduate courses

The CSU Chancellor’s Office distributed a memo that gave campuses authority to make their own decisions regarding offering credit/no credit options to students for the fall semester, according to ASI President Noah Marty.

Marty and Vice President of Academic Affairs Samantha Elizalde created a survey and a video posted on ASI’s Twitter asking students whether they were in favor of Sac State offering the credit/no credit option. The survey received 688 total responses and 343 unique responses with comments.

“With those unique responses, we ended up having 97% of respondents in favor of providing the credit/no credit option again this semester,” Marty said. 

In the survey, 46 responses indicated the connection to responders’ support for credit/no credit and the amount of stress or how stressful this semester has been, Marty said. 

Also, 18 responses connected responders’ support for credit/no credit to struggles with their mental health and 114 responses referenced how difficult this semester has been.

Marty gave a disclaimer that since the results of the poll were anonymous and through social media, it is not certain that the responses are from current students.

Overall, 23 students opposed this option due to the future impacts that the credit/no credit option can have on graduate programs.

“A good amount of them I remember was between four and five students indicating they opposed it because they wanted to get a letter grade or didn’t want to be forced to not to be able to get a letter grade,” Marty said. “So I think there is some confusion over it being mandatory versus being an option.”

Biology professor Jennifer Lundmark said students underestimate their final grades affecting their decision whether they want credit/no credit. 

“I feel like there needs to be some pretty solid warnings to students because this can really impact graduate programs and anything they want to do later on,” Lundmark said.

In spring 2020, students were able to go back and change their choices after their final course grades were posted.

The ASI resolution states that while the board recognizes the serious impacts that taking credit/no credit can have on financial aid, program admissions and post-baccalaureate programs, “ASCSUS stands in favor of the Credit/No-Credit option being given to students.”

“We felt that it was important based on this data and information to take a stance in favor of the credit/no credit option,” Marty said.

Board plans to reallocate travel funds into CARES fund

Vice President of Finance Prabhjyot Shinh said that due to the lack of travel this year, the travel funds are not being utilized. 

The board plans to donate $10,000 out of the $17,500 travel fund into the Crisis Assistance and Resource Support (CARES) fund.The Seth Nelsen Student Emergency Grant, named for Sac State President Robert Nelsen’s son, will receive $7,500 and the Student Emergency Housing fund will receive $2,500.

ASI’s resolution states that the Seth Nelsen Student Emergency Grant has played a critical role in supporting students through a one-time financial crisis, including emergency events like job loss, illness, theft, loff of property, loss of childcare, loss of transportation and more.

The Student Emergency Housing Fund has provided support for students who have experienced an unexpected housing crisis and offers temporary housing on campus.

Shinh said that an open forum will be held so students can provide feedback due to the “big change” made in the budget.

Activism award possibly violates guidelines

In an effort to meet ASI’s priority to increase awareness of racial injustices, discrimination and white fragility, several board members created the ASI Activism Award. The scholarship, if passed, will award $500 to one student and highlight the student’s continued activism within their community on anti-racism initiatives.

Ashley Momoh, director of social sciences and interdisciplinary studies, said that the ASI priority includes providing financial opportunities to support BIPOC students, or Black, Indigenous and People of Color. She said she hopes this scholarship will meet that requirement by adding a category to the rubric where a person states if they are in the BIPOC community. 

“We really want this to be for BIPOC students, so hopefully we are able to get that out there to the BIPOC community,” Momoh said. 

Gina Curry, the university’s designee for the chief financial officer, questioned whether the award was reviewed to ensure that it did not break any rules due to the expressive language it may contain that could make it vulnerable to lawsuits. Curry said that ASI has provided funds in support of areas that recently had lawsuits around expressive language.

“I know that there are restrictions on campus-based scholarships by not identifying areas such as that [BIPOC],” Curry said regarding the award’s focus on BIPOC students. “They typically have to be sort of more wide open.”

Marty recommended that the language of the award be reviewed and changed to fit with the state law. 

“I know we want to be careful especially with Prop 16 not having passed,” Marty said. 

Proposition 16, if passed, would have removed a statewide ban on affirmative action and allow California public education institutions to employ the consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity and national origin in their admissions and public employment hiring.

RELATED: ASI announces schedule for its 2021 elections, support for Prop 16

Director of finance and administration, Mark Montalvo, said that ASI will ensure that the award does not violate any expressed viewpoints.

Board member resigns

Kailah N. Jenkins resigned as natural sciences and mathematics director due to circumstances that have led her to prioritize working full-time and pausing her progress to a degree.

“With a heavy heart I resign as ASI Natural Sciences and Mathematics Director,” Jenkins wrote in her resignation letter read at the meeting by ASI Executive Vice President Donna Walters. “This choice has been emotionally challenging to accept. When I joined this board, I felt pride and hope with the belief that we could make positive change in the lives of our constituents.”

The State Hornet reached out to Marty and Walters Wednesday regarding the ASI scholarship given to Jenkins. Marty said he will confirm the scholarship amount and disbursement schedule with Shinh and provide it to The State Hornet.