Every student remembers the day the administration announced campus would be closed for the remainder of spring semester due to the increase in COVID-19 cases nearby.
The transition to online learning was a huge inconvenience and struggle for everyone involved. Many students struggled to succeed using the new platform; even professors struggled to teach effectively without the proper materials.
Recognizing the issue, the University officially came out with a pass/no credit (P/NC) grading option in April for students who wished to forego the traditional letter grading scale in the light of the sudden shift.
The P/NC grading option was simple. If a student had a letter grade between an A and C- in one of their classes they could choose to receive a final grade of P — "pass" — instead. Students could choose to receive an NC, meaning "no credit," for any grade lower than a C-. This would not affect the student's grade point average or any scholarship packages they might have had.
The University should continue offering this option for the fall 2020 semester because it is the best method of accommodation at this time. When class registration began, we all believed the pandemic would have subsided by the start of the fall semester — but traditional on-campus classes moved online again when the administration realized coronavirus cases would continue to increase.
It is hard for students to stay sane and healthy during a pandemic while maintaining good grades on primarily online courses. The University should not let students struggle academically when there are obvious changes that could be implemented to help out.
The P/NC system is more beneficial in general than the plus/minus letter grade system, as it allows students to maintain a better academic standing under less pressure. Students can focus more on comprehending the material rather than just memorizing it. Some professors only rely on a few exams for grades, so students are usually stressed when they fail an exam. However, the P/NC system lets students experience these failures but still pass the class.
We haven't been presented with the same offer this semester. The administration may feel that the P/NC grading system will enable students to be lazier and slack off in their classes. But should students really be expected to try as hard in the middle of a pandemic? Should they have to try as hard when they're stuck doing online classes while still paying the same high tuition rates?
It is unfair students have to dodge the coronavirus, mental strain and poor grades at the same time — re-instating the P/NC option for this semester is the least the University could do.
Tamia Southall is a 19-year-old mass communication sophomore from New Orleans.