To put it lightly, our modern world is experiencing unprecedented challenges; one result of which is remote instruction. This change, although necessary, is drastic in terms of how our instruction coursework is delivered and completed. We could not anticipate this change when we registered for courses last semester, and given the chance, many of us would reconsider our decisions.
Beyond academic changes come all the other changes stemming from a pandemic. Some of us are doing fine, but some of us are unsure of what our living situations could become, how our jobs will be impacted, and if food will be stable and available. Adding to that, while classes have fundamentally changed, the expectations for us as students have not. Classes are still graded on the grading scales set in course syllabi. That’s not to say professors haven’t been understanding, but we as students will be held to the same letter grade scale that will be carried on our transcripts as if there wasn’t a pandemic.
The university should offer a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (Pass/Fail) grading option per course. Professors shouldn’t need to give approval and should have no knowledge of the student’s decision to opt-in. The registrar can still record the letter grades reported by professors and can provide them on request to reduce the impact on students applying for graduate, professional, or other opportunities. Our suggestion is inspired by Tulane University as their response strikes a balance for those most affected and those pursuing opportunities after graduation.
Obviously this would be a large decision, however our university does not exist in a vacuum. We can look to other universities such as the University of Florida, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida, Florida State University, and Florida Atlantic University. They have announced similar policies as a response to the pandemic. We hope our university will help students as well.