Pass/Fail Option To Be Implemented for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021

Students+will+be+able+to+convert+letter+grades+that+could+affect+their+GPA+for+the+current+and+upcoming+online+semesters.+

Santiago Ochoa

Students will be able to convert letter grades that could affect their GPA for the current and upcoming online semesters.

The pass/fail option offered to students in Winter 2020 will also be made available to students for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021. 

This decision, announced at the Student Government General Assembly meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 2, by Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Shelby Newport, came after the daily number of COVID-19 cases in MI reached 9779 on Nov. 20. 

When the pass/fail grading modification was first introduced for Winter 2020 courses on March 23, the daily number of COVID-19 cases sat at 263

According to Newport, this semester’s grading policy will look similar to the pass/fail option in Winter 2020, where students had the option to convert passing letter grades to “P” and failing letter grades to “F” on their permanent transcripts, before and after viewing their final course grades. 

Also consistent with Winter 2020, graduate students will have the opportunity to switch passing grades to “S” (satisfactory) and failing grades to “U” (unsatisfactory). 

This option allows for students to keep their GPA from declining by changing grades below a C- to either “F” or “U”––markers that have no effect on a student’s GPA. 

Though the pass/fail option has the potential to benefit some students, it may not be ideal for everyone. “We need students to really weigh it seriously, and know that it’s not the perfect answer,” said Newport. 

For students looking to raise their GPA, an A would prove more helpful than a “P” or an “S”. Those applying to graduate programs may find that high letter grades are more conducive to their acceptance than “P”s. 

For these reasons, Newport encouraged each student to speak with an academic advisor before making the decision to convert any course grades. More information regarding specific deadlines for switching classes to pass/fail will be released to students via email on Monday, Dec. 7. 

Student Government played a role in bringing the pass/fail option to UM-Flint students, following the implementation of the pass/fail policy at UM-Ann Arbor on Nov. 13.

Sponsored by SG’s Director of Government and Legal Affairs, Fernando Medina, Resolution 2020-002 calls for the pass/fail policy to be extended to students at both UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn, for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021. The resolution references other universities, including UM-Ann Arbor, that modified their grading policies in order to better accommodate students during the pandemic.

The need for unity across UM’s campuses is part of what spurred Medina’s push for pass/fail grading. “We are part of the larger UM community, and it’s not equitable for Ann Arbor to have this without Flint and Dearborn having it as well,” said Medina. 

He went on to say 30 percent of students at UM-Flint are non-traditional, meaning they delayed enrollment, attend school part-time, have children, or are considered financially independent. “They have other priorities,” said Medina. 

The stressors posed by another predominantly online semester also influenced SG members to adopt Resolution 2020-002. “I don’t do well in online format…I saw a lot of my friends really struggling with their classes,” said Medina. 

Pass/fail grading could serve to take some of the pressure off anyone struggling with online courses, especially if they are worried about their GPA going down as a result of earning passing grades lower than an A+. 

“I think students needed this little help to get through the semester,” said Medina, “Honestly, it could be the deciding factor on if they come back for the winter semester.”