RU students advocate for a pass/fail grading system

by Raneen El-Barbarawi / Staff Reporter

The pass-fail grading system on an exam. Photo courtesy of Student Doctor Network.

Amid the chaos and panic that COVID-19 has inflicted on college students and their ability to perform well during online courses, many university students have advocated for a pass/fail grading system to be enforced. 

“It’s a very stressful time. Many people have lost their jobs and some students have been displaced,” said Amani Reichert-Giron, 20, a sophomore psychology major.

Mhari McGhee, 20, a sophomore integrated marketing major, also agreed that a pass/fail grading system should be enacted at Roosevelt. 

“I think everyone should have the option to choose if they want to have normal grading or use the pass/fail system for each class individually,” McGhee said. “Then, people who want to receive normal grading won’t be forced to use the pass/fail system.”

“I think it should be an option for students who feel they won’t be able to perform at their best this semester, to relieve some of the stresses us students are already under,” Grace Koeppen, 20, a sophomore majoring in integrated marketing said.

These students also spoke of the stressful impact that online classes have had on them.

“Personally, it’s been very stressful to switch to online learning and I think it’s been stressful to many students,” Reichert-Giron said, adding that she was unable to return to campus after visiting Ireland for a week. Because of this, she had to switch her flight back to the U.S. and return to her parents’ home in Minnesota.

“As someone with ADD, doing schoolwork at home is really difficult because it is hard to focus when I’m not in an academic environment,” McGhee said. “I choose not to do many online classes for this reason. A pass/fail system would be helpful because students who are struggling with online classes could choose to make those classes pass/fail so that their GPA won’t be affected.”

Giron said that she thinks the pass/fail grading system would “lower stress levels in college students.”

However, an email sent out by the Office of Provost indicated that Roosevelt would not be implementing a universal pass/fail grading system.

According to Roosevelt’s administration, a pass/fail grading system could “have an unintended and adverse impact on many students,” an email sent out to the student body said. “For example, such a decision could impair the chances of success for students applying to graduate and medical schools. A universal policy would also remove choices from many students who would like to receive grades.” 

Additionally, the email encouraged students to reach out to their professors or academic advisors if they were having difficulties in their performance and expressed that students had the ability to withdraw from a class. 

However, McGhee said that this email upset her, as she feels like “Roosevelt is not thinking about how certain students are going to be affected by the current circumstances. They should be thinking about how they can help all students both academically and mentally.” 

As a result, one student took it upon herself to begin a petition to encourage the pass/fail grading system at Roosevelt. As of April 2, the petition has received over 250 signatures. 

The petition advocates for the implementation of a pass/fail grading system, with its reasoning being that the “COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted much of the globe and has significantly changed all of [the students’] livelihoods.” 

The author even went so far as to discuss how other top-ranked American universities such as Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale, Harvard, Stanford and Columbia Law Schools have “adopted the pass/fail grading system.”

250 Roosevelt students who signed the petition agreed with the idea that a pass/fail system “would relieve some of the stress students are experiencing” during these unprecedented times, as Abigail Ramirez wrote.

Koeppen also agreed that it “could be effective in relieving stress for students,” as well as help them academically during these unfamiliar circumstances.

“I have a lot of sympathy for the professors right now, who also had their whole lives flipped over,” said Koeppen. “I know this is also really hard and stressful on them, so I think there should be some compromises in the curriculum to make sure students and professors aren’t too overwhelmed and can handle the workload.”

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