AU announces pass/fail option for students for remainder of semester
Change comes after thousands of students signed petitions
In an email to the AU community on Thursday morning, Provost Dan Meyers and Deans Jessica Waters and Wendy Boland announced that the University is adopting a pass/fail option for students’ courses for the remainder of the semester, beginning April 1.
The change comes after thousands of students signed petitions demanding the University adopt the policy after classes moved online in response to the coronavirus epidemic, and follows the same decision at Georgetown University and George Washington University, among others.
“After reviewing all aspects of this change to ensure it would not create unintended hurdles, we hope that it will alleviate some stress, allow you to prioritize your health and that of your family and community members and afford you the opportunity to gauge your own academic progress and consult with your academic and financial aid advisors to make the decisions that are best for you,” the administration said in the email.
Classes will still count for credit toward majors, minors and other requirements. Individual students may elect to switch their grading system over for as many classes as they like.
The email made clear that other requirements associated with grading, including federal aid or scholarship programs, may impact students’ ability to adjust to pass/fail.
AU’s handbook stipulates that a passing grade must constitute at least a “C,” or 2.00. Pass/fail grades are not calculated into GPA totals. Limitations are placed on student use of the policy: only once a semester, just for electives and only for a total of four times in one’s undergraduate career. This announcement lifts all these restrictions.
Eric Perless, a senior in the School of Public Affairs and the creator of one of the petitions, told The Eagle that he began circulating it upon seeing the chaos students were facing as they moved off-campus and adapted to online classes.
“A lot of students are scared right now and focused on the pandemic,” Perless said. “We just had our first community case at AU and some students’ families or friends may have the coronavirus. Students are dealing with things that are taking precedence over classwork.”
Freshman Michael Brown, who started a separate petition, said the disconnect that could be created by different time zones was a major concern.
“I then realized that there are multiple students, especially students who live in areas far from D.C. [the East Coast and internationally] who will have to change a lot to adjust to this new situation,” he said. “With different time zones, lack of access to academic support and possibly more work than given in person-to-person classes, it made sense that pass/fail needs to be an option extended past the March 20 deadline.”
More details will be available next week, the announcement said. The change does not affect the Washington College of Law.