Temporary policy change aims to help students struggling with consequences of pandemic, online learning
Following the circulation of a student petition, Rollins faculty approved the pass/fail grading option with a 111-21 vote majority. The nonmandatory grading system allows students to pass, pass with a D letter grade, or fail any or all of their classes without affecting their GPA, as long as they opt into it before the last day of the class.
This timeline means students will not be able to see their final grade before opting into the policy, but Martina Vidovic, associate professor of economics, said, “by the last day of class you should have a pretty good idea of what your final grade will look like.”
CLA students will have until April 28 to opt into this new grading system, while Holt students have until the last day of the class to apply the policy to that course.
If students sign up for this new policy, a D letter grade will allow the student to pass the class, but it will be designated as PD on their transcript (instead of P for Pass). However, the PD designation does not fulfill major, minor, or competency course requirements that require a C- or better.
The new grading system is only effective for Spring 2020 to aid undergraduate students dealing with coronavirus-related issues following the closure of campus. Issues include limited access to at-home WiFi, time zone changes, and worrying about the health and unemployment of themselves and loved ones.
The Curriculum Committee within faculty created and approved the new system and sent it to the Executive Committee. After its approval there, it was presented and voted on during yesterday’s faculty meeting.
Vidovic, a member of the Curriculum Committee said that after consulting with many departments and reviewing the petition and other colleges’ new grading policies, the committee wanted to give students the flexibility to pass with a D letter grade.
Vidovic said flexibility is also why the new grading system can be applied to as many or as few classes as a student needs.
The option is only available to Holt and College of Liberal Arts (CLA) programs, excluding graduate programs currently offered.
Students who are athletes, anticipating graduate school, on academic probation, or limited by scholarship and financial aid requirements that may require GPA scores should work closely with advisors before considering this option.
In order to choose the new grading system, students must consult with their advisor and fill out an online form, which will be released soon. A part of the form confirms that the change was discussed with the student’s advisor.
Several professors expressed concerns about students’ inability to see their final grade before they decide to use the new grading system. Stacey Dunn, professor of psychology and executive director of the Child Development Center, said in a public message, “I would like us to have the most compassionate response possible. Let students work up until the end as hard as they can, and then have all the info (final grade) before deciding. I don’t see this as a ‘get out of jail free card.’ I see it as fair and humane.”
Vidovic said that the committee chose the pre-final exam deadline because it wanted students to work as hard as they could until the last day of class, similar to the Credit/No Credit system.
Dr. David Charles, professor of theater, was concerned about the policy potentially altering students’ financial aid packages.
Registrar Stephanie Henning said that students’ financial aid packages will not change because students have completed over 60 percent of the semester. Bright Futures scholarships will only change if the student earns a No Pass distinction in a course, just like when a student earns a No Credit distinction.
Despite the new grading option, some professors are still considering curving their students’ grades. Dr. Jill Jones, professor of English, said that despite some students receiving letter grades and some not, “I’m just going to inflate my grades.” She was concerned for students who may be under emotional stress due to technological disadvantages or family members losing their jobs or becoming ill.
Just like Credit/No Credit decisions, the professor of the course will not know which grading system the student is using, unless a student’s advisor is also their professor. Professors will continue to assign letter grades and submit final grades at the end of the course. Then, the online grading system will automatically change the grade to a Pass, Pass with a D, or a No Pass distinction.
If a student does not choose to use the new grading system, the letter grades their professors assign will remain on the student’s transcript as usual.
Vidovic said that the letter grades a professor submits are privately preserved by Rollins. If students want to recover their grades at a later point for a good reason, such as for graduate or medical school requirements, they can go through an appeals process.
Update: The policy was formally announced to students on Friday, April 3, at 4:18 p.m. in an email from Leon Hayner, associate dean of students.
Editor’s note: This is a follow-up to the article “Students petition for emergency pass/fail option after transition to online classes.” Read more about the motivations behind the petition here, which was started by Ahrmon Mahanpour (‘20) and Nourhan Mesbah (21) and garnered over 2,100 signatures.
Differences between Credit/No Credit and Pass/No Pass:
- When it can be applied: C/NC must be applied in the beginning of the semester, except for a one-time emergency use. Pass/No Pass can be applied up until the last day of class.
- Graduation requirements: C/NC cannot fulfill major, minor, or gen ed requirements. Pass and Pass with a D can.
Similarities between C/NC and Pass/No Pass:
- Both keep a letter grade from influencing a student’s GPA.
- Both require a student to submit an online form to request them. The Pass/No Pass form will be available soon.
- Both require an advisor’s approval. Professors have 48 hours after the student submits the form to comment on the student’s decision.