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Is choosing a Pass/Not Pass grading system worth it?

Illustration: Carter Klassen · The Sentry

Yes, there are enough stressors at the moment 

Opinion by Isaiah Mancha

Due to a series of unfortunate events, schools of all academics have transitioned from in-person lectures to online. As COVID-19 continues to spread, this is the safest way to keep all faculty members and students safe and healthy. Students have access to course lectures through Canvas, they are given access to Zoom, a facetime app that creates in-person lectures still a thing; there are still amenities students are benefited with. And now, students are given an option to choose a pass plus/pass/no pass option for their grades for the remainder of the spring semester. As a matter of fact, wouldn’t that be easier, to choose to pass a class rather than stay on board with an online system that continues to have many issues? 

Even with Canvas and Zoom accessible, they don’t always work. Zoom, as a matter of fact, eats up all the Wi-Fi possible, creating freezing and lagging issues for students. Also, because of COVID-19, students living on campus were forced to move back home. Students living across the nation, including overseas, are unable to get any luxury out of Zoom. All the while, some students are unable to have access to Wi-Fi, making it even harder to attend lectures. 

Students are in the middle of transitioning all aspects of life; moving back home, potentially losing a job due to many closures of non-essential places of employment – students have a lot on their plate to chew on, yet they are still told to wake up at 7:30 am for an 8:00 am lecture? If a student chooses the option of pass plus/pass, they will be given the bare minimum of work and still receive a decent grade for that course. That’s not so bad, and plus, maybe there won’t have to be another 8:00 am lecture to attend. 

Not to mention, not all majors are capable of transitioning from traditional to online courses. Art and Media Majors are stripped from using the equipment needed for certain classes, including studios and dark rooms. Why waste time figuring out a new project without equipment and instead pass a class and prepare for the next semester? Students should not be held responsible to continue a class if they think they are not getting the best of an education on an online course rather than traditional in-person. 

Even though going online may seem like a benefiting share for all on campus, having an option to pass a class is a gift that students should take advantage of to avoid dealing with the cons of online courses. 

No, it’s an unnecessary overreaction

 Opinion by Ahmad Dabbas

The COVID-19 Pandemic is changing how life operates every day in this country and as students. The virus spread created the need to shut down all of the campuses and finish this entire Spring Semester online. All classes have moved to full online instruction and thus have created an additional set of stresses for students, teachers, and faculty. The university announced on April 2nd that students would now have the option to choose pass/fail for courses in the Spring Semester. While the nature of the semester of itself has changed due to going online, the COVID-19 pandemic should not allow for the reinstatement of a Pass/Fail option for students at this point in the semester.  

Per the university’s announcement students can select pass/fail for any course until June 5th at 5 P.M. The intention is to provide students with plenty of time and breathing room for a course during this pandemic. Students should keep in pass/fail mind that selecting pass/fail for a course will not have any impact on GPA. This means that while a certain comfort barrier is provided, it can have unintended consequences on scholarships for students.  Before the university transitioning online on March 16th, 2020, the semester had been nearing its halfway point, and Spring Break was around the corner. The option for students to select Pass/Fail for a course is plentiful, as students were given a full week of classes to decide whether or not to choose this option before the February 5th deadline. Providing students with another pass/fail option so far into the semester is unfair. 

While  the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way that the Spring Semester will operate, the majority of teachers, faculty, departments, and courses have and will adjust for this. The option of an extended pass/fail is an overreaction. Despite the challenges of a semester going completely online, students were already utilizing many online functions within traditional courses. Students use programs like Canvas routinely with traditional courses, and already have a familiarity with the program. There are no doubt challenges to a semester transitioning online, but students are constantly using technology, and do not need a pass/fail system to transition fully online. 

The pass/fail option is a good option that students are given plenty of time to choose at the beginning of the semester. It provides students with a comfort barrier with specific classes or subjects they may not feel comfortable in, and it will not impact your GPAEven though the world is in a pandemic, academics will continue, and adjustments have been made to help alleviate that stress, but the university now once again providing students with the pass/fail option for a course that they have been in for over a month, is unnecessary. 

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