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Carleton University: Give Students the Option to be Graded on a Pass/Fail Basis

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In light of the suspension of lectures, as well as the enormous disruptions to everyday life due to the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am calling on Carleton University to give students the option to be graded on a pass/fail basis for their Winter 2020 courses. This would not be unprecedented; other schools, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto, have recently announced the implementation of such a policy (https://www.thedp.com/article/2020/03/pass-fail-penn-mit-georgetown-smith Petitions such as this one are springing up around North America as students come to grips with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and the totality of its impact on student life.

The progression of the outbreak has left thousands of students facing tremendous uncertainty in their academics, employment, housing, and health - both physical and mental. Professors have scrambled to deliver course material online and, while their efforts have been admirable, the diversity of approaches and difficulty levels embodied by these approaches will make it much harder for some students to succeed. Consequently, we call on Carleton University and the Dean of each faculty to give students the choice between being graded on a standard letter-grade basis or being graded on a pass/fail basis. Doing so will ensure that students who are struggling with uncertainty will not be disproportionately negatively impacted by factors beyond their control. I would note that the implementation of the suggested policy would be especially beneficial for those who are struggling with the accessibility of online lectures, for example. 

  



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