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Lea Baddoura: The face behind the USF pass/fail petition

Even though Baddoura will not be using the pass/fail grading option, she said she created the petition to help her peers who needed assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/ LEA BADDOURA AND CHANGE.ORG

USF students now have the option to receive pass/fail grades instead of letter grades in their current courses. However, this was not the initial plan as it came from many circling petitions, one being from Lea Baddoura.

In just two weeks, her petition received 7,040 signatures. 

When the university moved to remote instruction due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), Baddoura, a sophomore majoring in biomedical sciences, felt the pressure students were feeling. 

That’s when she knew she had to take action. Funny enough, Baddoura will not be electing to use the system she petitioned for. 

She said this is because it wouldn’t benefit her academic career following USF. 

Many graduate schools, such as medical schools, do not accept a non-letter grade for a course, and the system doesn’t give a student credit for a requisite course needed to take other classes. The S(atisfactory) or U(nsatisfactory) also doesn’t affect GPA, so a student’s current GPA will neither rise nor fall under this system.

Although Baddoura isn’t taking advantage of what the petition achieved, her motivation came from wanting to be a voice for those who need to have it due to these uncertain times.

“People are stressed right now,” Baddoura said. “It’s going to be easier to miss assignments and have technical issues, and all this can hurt people. 

“I need the letter grade, but it’s more important for everyone else to have this option.”

Baddoura said she recognizes that undergraduate students come from all different backgrounds and age groups.

 “A lot of us don’t realize that undergrads could be adults,” Baddoura said.

Adults with children or who work in health care at the moment are under stress and a lot of their time is being consumed with childcare or working right now, and schooling may not be their ultimate priority. Baddoura said she wanted to create the petition for those who were struggling with those responsibilities. 

She said she also wanted to consider students with families or students themselves who have contracted the virus and have become too ill to manage their schoolwork.

“If people get sick it could be hard too because it’s all online,” Baddoura said.

The university announced its decision to implement the grading option shortly after it received 7,000 signatures.

Baddoura said she was pleased with how the university responded to her petition.

“I think the university did a good job because they implemented the things people were asking for, but said to think about the option before taking it,” Baddoura said. “They really thought about it, I appreciate that they listened.”

She also feels this decision will give students greater faith that the USF administration is willing to listen to the needs of the student body.

“I think this will make students even more confident in our school because this decision showed that the USF administration values how we feel and that they are willing to make changes based on that,” she said.

What shocked Baddoura the most, was the amount of attention it received. 

“I did not expect to get so many signatures, especially because people misunderstood what it meant at first,” Baddoura said. “As it became more clear as an option, I think a lot more people started signing it.” 

Baddoura said based on everything that has happened the past two weeks, she feels fulfilled, especially because of how the university responded. 

“I feel proud because when I did it, I did not expect it to be as big as it got,” Baddoura said. “My friends sent me pictures of people I did not even know in group chats sending the petition around the school. I didn’t make it for myself, but for other people.”