DUELING COLUMN: Spring 2020 Should Not Be Pass Or Fail

Damielys Duarte/Staff Writer

The global crisis known as the coronavirus has affected the lives of everyone across the nation and has even managed to infiltrate our very campus. With classes transferred to digital meeting rooms and students forced out of their dorms, we can safely say this spring semester has been anything but productive. 

This has resulted in the creation of a student-led petition requesting that all Spring 2020 classes be moved onto a pass or fail grading system. And while some students have offered their support, others have expressed their disagreement with the petition—myself included.

One common misconception of pass/fail grading is people believe their grade for the course is either an A or an F. Instead, according to a recent survey sent out by FIU’s Student Government Association, there are two scenarios that could play out with this model. The first would be your transcript will not have a letter grade but rather “Pass” or “Fail” and your GPA would remain unaffected. Another possibility is that “Pass” does not affect GPA but that “Fail” constitutes an F and can actually harm students’ GPA.

And while some students might not have any qualms with that system, this is a huge disservice to the students who worked very hard to maintain their grades in order to boost their GPA, especially in the midst of the coronavirus. 

In addition, students interested in applying for grad school might be in for a big surprise as not all graduate schools accept pass or fail classes and this could inherently result in them repeating a semester for no reason.

However, that is not to say that there shouldn’t be exceptions for students extremely affected by the crisis. The concept of an extended late drop period or a curve applied to classes for this semester are proactive ways in assisting students who have been struggling with their course load.

On the professor’s part, assignment extensions and curves could be a valuable resource and help for their students during this challenging time of uncertainty and panic. 

We are all aware of the global chaos that has come over every nation; however, our actions to mitigate the effects of this event on our education should not come at the cost of thousands of hardworking FIU students. Should Pass or Fail become an option for the school, it should be at the discretion of the students who wish to partake in it and not an overall program.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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