The New Pass/No Pass Deadline has Students feeling Cheated

The Academic Advising Center moved locations in Beckman Hall. Photo by Marcella Zizzo.

Some students say the new, shortened pass/no pass policy has reduced their willingness to sign up for classes they fear they won’t ace.

Chapman’s revision of the pass/no pass policy this fall includes lowering all passing grades to meet a minimum of “C-” rather than the previous “C” standard, as well as limiting the allotted amount of pass/no pass credits to six per academic year–which is considered the terms of Fall through the end of Summer. It does not include courses that are only offered as pass/no pass.

Students are usually not allowed to register a major or minor course as pass/no pass unless they receive permission from their department chair.

But the least popular aspect of the changes is its shortened deadline to register a course as pass/no pass.

For the 2018/19 year, the Faculty Undergraduate Academic Council sliced the timeframe in which a student could change a course from graded to pass/no pass in half – from 10 weeks to five.

The short deadline is “annoying” and “rude,” said junior PR & advertising student Nora Viarnes.

Five weeks isn’t enough time to fully decide if a student will perform well in a class, according to Viarnes.

“It’s unfair because you don’t really know that you’re going to struggle that hard. It’s hard to tell [how you’ll do in a class] that early,” Viarnes said.

Some students say they now have too little time to determine whether or not they need to switch to pass/no pass to preserve their grade point average.  

A benefit that some students see to the pass/no pass option is that there is no reflection on their transcript of any lost points, should they not pass. A student who opts into pass/no pass would just not receive credit, if they did not pass, and would have to repeat the course again if they needed to pass for their degree.

At Chapman, if a student chooses to pass/no pass their course, they will receive a grade of “P” or “NP,” rather than a letter grade on their transcripts.

Thus, their GPA won’t change, either positively or negatively. Pass/no pass only tracks whether or not a student passed the course.

Some students feel as if they don’t have enough time to determine whether or not they will do well in a class, especially since some professors don’t post grades until later in the semester.

Faculty Undergraduate Academic Council was “concerned that the 10-week period to change the grading method was too lax,” according to Vice President for Undergraduate Education Nina LeNoir, when asked why Chapman made the changes.

LeNoir said that having a pass/no pass option is set in place “to encourage students to take classes outside their major discipline that they may find challenging but have an interest in.”

The deadline was halved to put Chapman in line with other universities’ standards, said LeNoir, noting, “most schools have much shorter P/F or P/NP decision times.”

But, some students find that the shortened timestamp on declaring a class as pass/no discourages students from taking risks or registering from classes that are an academic stretch.

The new deadline made sophomore peace studies major Preetha Raj, regret trying new classes.

Raj was considering switching to a different major and decided to take a course in that subject to see if it would be a good fit. After the first few weeks of school, she was unable to tell how she was doing because she didn’t have any grades yet.

“I wasn’t able to really gauge how I was doing in the class until after that five-week deadline,” Raj said.

After finding out she wasn’t doing well in the class, Raj was stuck in the course with no way to protect her transcript, as the pass/no pass deadline had run out.

The pass/no pass deadline plays “a huge role in how you’re planning out your next four years,” Raj said.  

“At five weeks in, you don’t even know what your projected grade could be in the class,” and that moving up the deadline only impedes the process of deciding whether or not one actually needs the option of pass/no pass.

“If anything it just stresses students out,” Raj said.

The updated policy prevents students from experimenting with new courses, according to Viarnes.

“The [general education courses] here vary so outrageously from, like, super easy to ridiculously hard for no reason,” Viarnes said.

LeNoir said that she does not view the pass/no pass option as simply a grade-saver.

“It is meant to encourage intellectual curiosity, not to save a GPA,” said LeNoir.

“A student should have the ability to evaluate whether or not the class is at the level at which they wish to take it for a letter grade or pass/fail upon reading the syllabus, and through several class meetings,” according to LeNoir.

LeNoir said she is unable to release the number of students who have dropped out of a course until the end of the current term.

Nearly two percent of courses were changed to pass/no pass per semester within the last academic year, with the most common pass/no pass courses being foreign languages and mathematics, according to LeNoir.

Still, some students don’t believe the pass/no pass option is the best academic move.

“I just always felt like I could just get the grade I’m going to get than pass/no pass it and then have that show up on my transcript,” said Bailee Cochran, a junior business major.

By moving up the deadline to switch to pass/no pass, the university is leaving students with little option to shield their GPAs from a bad mark, Cochran said.

“Not everyone is just trying to get out of working hard in their class. Some people really do need [the option of pass/no pass].”

Tinder Barely Passes with Tinder U

Tinder U is a way for students to meet with one another from different universities. Photo by Tumisu on pixabay.

Students don’t give Tinder’s new dating platform very high marks. The much-heralded update restricts their dating options down to other college students but it turns out Chapman users prefer a wider field of selections.

“Tinder U,” launched in August, allows users to filter their dating searches down to other users who also share a university-affiliated email address.

But, students who have given the new service a whirl complain that it’s flawed—sometimes matching them with students far away at other universities and that they don’t necessarily want to be matched with someone they may have already met in their math class.

“Chapman is already small enough,” said Jamie Garcia, a senior psychology and integrated education studies major.

Because Tinder U narrows in on college students, it would make meeting people on campus through Tinder very “awkward,” Garcia said.

Since most Tinder users are of 18-24 years old, the app wants to craft an experience “specifically for them,” said Lauren Probyn, Director of Global Marketing & Events for Tinder.

The feature is meant to connect students to more of their peers and make it easier for users to match with those closer in their area, according to Probyn.

But, sophomore screen acting major Luca Rorh has found that, upon signing in with Tinder U, his feed is flooded with students who are well outside his set radius.

“My range is currently set for 9 miles, and yet the first person that popped up is someone from Azusa Pacific, 15 miles away,” Rorh said.

Rorh initially signed on to Tinder U to meet more Chapman students but views the newest update as a roadblock.

“I can’t just switch back to just Chapman. I don’t want to match with people from USC,” said Rorh.  

Rather than prioritizing geographic location, Rorh has found that the Tinder U feature places student profiles from far away universities before non-student users that may be closer to him.

He believes this takes the convenience out of online dating, and he’s not alone.

Junior computer science major Charlie Story confesses to being as disappointed with the mechanics of the app as Rorh.

“It actually confuses me because sometimes I’ll match with people farther out of my 15 miles that I put. Then, I’m like ‘she’s like 79 miles away’,” Story said.

In response to such complaints, Tinder U maintains that location preferences are still up to each user’s discretion.

“If someone is using Tinder U at NYU and their radius is set at 50 miles, they will see students at Hunter College, Columbia, Barnard, etc.,” said Gabrielle Aboodi, Senior Accountant Executive for Tinder.  

Per Tinder protocol, students are able to enter their location and set up a personalized radius for potential matches. But, once a user signs in as a student, the app then allows users to swipe on other students at their own college, as well as nearby schools, according to its website.

Tinder also states that a student may turn the Tinder U filter off at any time.

Tinder U is only available for students at “4-year, accredited, not-for-profit schools in the U.S. that deliver courses in traditional face-to-face learning format,” Probyn said.

If a user is not connected with Tinder U, but they have a regular Tinder account, they’ll still show up on the app of a Tinder U user, though presented much later.

Tinder has stated that they are “unable” to disclose any numbers regarding how many students are actually taking advantage of the Tinder U feature.

The overall Chapman consensus on Tinder, as a whole, is varied. Some students’ original goals for joining the online dating pool are unclear.

“Honestly, your guess is as good as mine,” said Kyler Hannah, a senior psychology and strategic & corporate communications major.

Hannah tried Tinder U, but ultimately reverted back to classic Tinder.

“I didn’t like [Tinder U]. I just feel like I don’t always want to date in the [college] community,” Hannah said.

Hannah views the basic version of Tinder as her “way to get out of” the typical circles she runs in on campus, making Tinder U inattentive to her specific needs within the app.

Junior psychology major Samantha Scherba finds Tinder U appealing, as someone who “wants to date a guy who’s well educated.” Scherba only sees  benefits in “having [Tinder] on a university level.”

Tinder U advertises these changes as a chance to organize study sessions, coffee dates, and meet new faces. However, some students disagree with what the app actually stands for and how they are using it.

Tinder U “is window shopping,” according to Story.

Contrary to what Tinder U advertises, Story believes the site promotes hookup culture and short-term flings.

Indigenous People want to Remember the Past by Acting for the Future

Lupe Lopez-Donaghey presents a traditional breastplate to the crowd during her speech. Photo by Marcella Zizzo

Native American speakers, as well as the Cross-Cultural Center staff, stressed the importance of voter engagement during Chapman’s Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month kickoff event to a small group of people.

Only eight people attended the Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month kick-off event in Argyros Forum on November 6th. Festivities included crafts, traditional dancing, and politically charged speeches surrounding American Indian voter rights in the United States.

We were here before anybody,” said Lupe Lopez-Donaghey, a paralegal and American Indian cultural consultant who identifies as Native American.

Donaghey gave the keynote address titled “Culture and Legal Status of American Indians” – a fitting topic, given that the kickoff occurred on the day of midterm elections. The suppression of the Native American vote in North Dakota was a national topic in the run up to the elections.

While there was national outrage over the requirement of “tribal IDs” in North Dakota, Lopez-Donaghey said a lack of voter participation from the Native American community was also a problem.

“There is still a lot of voter apathy,” Lopez-Donaghey said.   

Many native people also have obstacles that prevent them from voting, such as the address requirement, said Victoria Gomez, a graduate student in the leadership development program.

“On the reservation, they don’t even have a P.O. box.,” said Gomez, who assists with Heritage Month Programming for the University and helped set up the event.

The voter registration rate for American Indians and Alaskan Natives in the United States is anywhere from five to 14 percentage points lower than any other racial demographic, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

“American Indians did not become citizens until 1924, but in reality didn’t get the right to vote until, like, the 60s. It’s not that many years that we’ve had voting rights,” Lopez-Donaghey said.

Native Americans were banned from voting until 1965, as those on Indian reservations were not considered natural-born citizens, according to the Native American Voting Rights Coalition.  

Consequently, Lopez-Donaghey has kick-started the California Native Vote Project.

The California Native Vote Project is an organization that encourages Native Americans to vote and participate in politics.

“How many of you guys have ever heard of [California Native Project] before?” Lopez-Donaghey asked of the audience.

After the silence, she affirmed that nobody in the crowd was aware of the organization.

“We’re pushing for that American Indian vote. It is our right. We now have that right, so let’s move forward with it,” Lopez-Donaghey said.

Throughout her talk, Lopez-Donaghey  referenced traditional music or dance from various tribes, including one dance that served as a symbolic healing dance for domestic violence against Native women.

“She dances in a prayer. With Native American women, four out of five will experience violence in their lifetime,” said Lopez-Donaghey

A Native American woman performs a spiritual dance in honor of healing. Photo by Marcella Zizzo

Lopez-Donaghey also addressed other community challenges, such as alcoholism and diabetes.

She blamed these problems on governmental interference, and the adoption of unhealthy  customs for the sake of convenience and assimilation.

Lopez-Donaghey argued that colonization and assimilation were imposed on Native American people, which resulted in the stripping of their values and the emergence of adversity.

“These people have suffered through a lot of things in their culture through colonization. I think it’s really important to recognize that as we go forward,” said Gomez.

It is the second year that the Cross-Cultural Center has celebrated Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month. Since 1995, each president has declared November as National American Indian Heritage Month.

“I hope that people want to come and learn more about who they are, but also about who these people are as well. This [event] is specifically for non-native students to come and learn,” Gomez said.

Poignantly, the issued discussed reached few listeners. Several Chapman students even entered only to grab snacks and refreshments before sneaking out.

But nationally, there was good news, as native people surged to the polls en masse: The North Dakota Secretary of State and local officials reported stunningly high levels of voter turnout on the Standing Rock and Turtle Mountain reservations.

Higher levels of Native American voter turnout will increase the likelihood that Native concerns – especially those involving the environment and education – will be heard,  Lopez-Donaghey said.

 

Will we or won’t we. . . . vote in the midterms?

Chapman students were largely absent in the last midterms. Some say the Trump administration and the carnival around Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court will improve this year’s attendance

Students take a study-break to the sounds of Fox News and CNN. Photo by Marcella Zizzo

Come November 6th, the midterm elections will offer Chapman students the opportunity to voice their frustrations with or endorse the efforts of the current Republican administration. But it’s very unclear if college students – notorious for their low voting rates – will turn out in numbers big enough to affect the outcome.

Californians will have the opportunity to vote on propositions involving rent control, animal rights and bond funds for housing programs, water projects and an effort to weaken the gas tax. Students from other states and some from California may also be voting in house and senate races that could dilute the power of the Republican administration, which now controls all three branches of government. Midterm elections are also a proving ground for politicians who may one day run for national office.

Though not as highly publicized as presidential races, midterm elections are also important. Many cities of Orange County will be up for grabs, including the 46th congressional district that Chapman calls home.

However, despite their engagement with public demonstrations or social media blasts, voter turnout rates with 18-24-year-olds are among the lowest of all demographics. At Chapman, less than 15 percent of students voted in the 2014 midterms, according to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE), even though 58 percent were registered.

Chapman performed better in the in 2016 presidential contest (57 percent turned out, beating the national college average by almost seven points, according to NSLVE). But few students are aware of who or what is at stake in local midterms and those that often find their efforts to vote thwarted.

Freshman English major Sydnee Valdez said she doesn’t exactly “know the process or how to register to vote,” nor does she intend to.

“It doesn’t really matter to me,” Valdez explains when asked the specifics on where and when she’ll finally register.

Valdez, who is from Hawaii, was unclear on when the midterms will be taking place, as well as what is up for election.

“When is this again?” she asked. Valdez said she does not feel prepared to vote in either the Orange election or the one back in her hometown of Oahu.

“A lot of people don’t know what midterms are,” said senior screenwriting major Amanda Galemmo. She, herself, plans to vote in the upcoming season, specifically to “vote Steve Knight out of Congress.”

Steve Knight, currently serves Santa Clarita, Simi, and Antelope Valley in the 25th District as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, sitting on the House Armed Services Committee, as well as the Committee on Science, Space, Technology, and the Small Business Committee.

Many other students “think their vote doesn’t matter,” said junior creative producing major Gillian Evans, who said she participates in both general and the primary elections.

Although studies show a low voter turnout in midterm elections, Galemmo feels an increase in political engagement from her peers since the last presidential election. Many students are distressed by actions of the Trump administration, and the attempt to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has many students determined to make their voices heard.

Voting is “a great way to be peaceful and still make change about what [people] really want,” said peace studies and screenwriting double major Jacqueline Dang,

“I went to an actual poll booth. I thought it was interesting, I talked to some pretty cool people in line,” Dang said of her experience voting in the 2016 presidential election.

“People need to realize that they each have a voice,” and that it is important to use it, said Dang, who plans to vote in the upcoming election.

But, Dang is a minority.

 Why do students have such poor turnout? Some students live far away from the town or state in which they are registered and cannot return home to vote, or they find it difficult to navigate the absentee process. Some don’t realize or minimize the connection between their personal behaviors and national policies. Others don’t have a tradition of voting in their families, haven’t been encouraged to register and feel so alienated or ignorant about issues and candidates they are hesitant to cast a vote lest it is a “wrong” one.  

Chapman students make strides in applying for an absentee ballot. Photo by Katie Whitman

Failing to register in time to vote in California or encountering obstacles when trying to do so is a running theme.

“I tried to vote, but I had to get an absentee ballot from Tennessee,” said Maddie Davies, a junior film production major.

“By the time I was able to submit it back to them, it didn’t arrive to the state on time. So, technically, I was registered to vote but I could not vote,” Davies said. “I was so mad though, I really wanted to [vote],” she added.

The harder it is to vote, the less likely it is that people will do so.  In-state students will potentially have access to in-person voting, as well as mail-in ballots. The out-of-staters are left with the option of absentee or mail-in ballots, should they be away at school during any election day.

But only 3.2 percent of Chapman students who voted in the 2014 midterms – 36 students, to be exact – cast absentee ballots in the  2014 midterms, according to NSLVE.

Convenience affects turnout, too. Students who are registered in the same state where they attend school have an easier time submitting a mail-in ballot on time, rather than those who have to request one from their home state.

Efforts are underway to boost Chapman’s historically poor midterm turnout.

Associate Professor of English Tom Zoellner sent an email to faculty asking teachers to take “a few minutes in class” to tell students that if they have not already arranged to vote by mail in their home districts, they should register here before the Oct. 22 registration deadline, and tell students how to do so. (In person at a Post Office or the DMV, or by going to https://registertovote.ca.gov/ )

 After her absentee ballot failed to arrive on time for the 2016 presidential election, Davies registered through TurboVote, a non-partisan, online platform meant to ease registration.

Brandon Naylor, director of communications at Democracy Works, the organization overseeing TurboVote, said students benefit most from TurboVote’s alerts to registered voters, notifying them of any upcoming elections. TurboVote allows students to update their registrations and order absentee ballots from their hometown, Naylor explained.

Student body president Mitchell Rosenberg said one of student government’s next “big initiatives is voter engagement.”

A school-wide voter registration day on campus may be in the works, said Rosenberg, as the Student Government Association wants to “enhance voter participation and voter education, especially”.

Rosenberg advises new out-of-state students to register in California, as they’ll be calling the state home for at least the next four years.

“Registering here while you’re here is going to be more beneficial in the long run,” because it is more likely you will wind up casting a ballot, Rosenberg said.

Chapman’s website includes information and guidelines regarding the steps necessary to take advantage of TurboVote, as well as various other sites that can educate you further on the issue of voter registration.

Even if your home state does not permit online registration, Chapman’s site offers useful resources to get registered in other ways.  

To vote in California’s November 6th midterms, you must be registered by Oct. 22. (Vote-by-mail ballot requests are required by October 30th).

Additional information can be found online, with documents detailing everything from polling locations to the candidates running for office.