Haverford College COVID-19 Credit/No-Credit Semester

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Brandon Pita
Brandon Pita signed this petition

We, the undergraduate student body of Haverford College, respectfully petition the Undergraduate Dean’s Office to consider offering Haverford College undergraduates the opportunity to take ALL spring semester classes as Credit/No Credit, in light of the unforeseen academic changes due to COVID-19. Students shall receive major credit for these classes as well. Grades from these classes will be uncoverable as well, as is standard. We believe that Haverford College should follow the lead of other prominent universities, including Georgetown University, MIT, and Smith College, which have already announced Credit/No Credit or pass/fail option.

We understand that Haverford College’s decision to cancel all in-person instruction to virtual and to require students to move out of the dorms is based on WHO and CDC guidance and with the intention to protect our community. However, this sudden shift will not only have a significant effect on Haverford students’ education but will also greatly impact students’ socioemotional well-being. 

Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore pride themselves with exceptional in-class instruction and small classroom sizes. With this setting, students feel comfortable asking questions and learning from their peers. Replicating this setting via distance learning will be nearly impossible.  In addition, despite IT’s best efforts, we anticipate technological difficulties in delivering online learning to students.

Professors are utilizing a variety of platforms, including Microsoft Teams and Zoom,  which create challenges for faculty and students alike who are unfamiliar with the technology. We expect that it will take a significant amount of time and effort over the coming weeks as teachers and students acclimate to the emerging technology. For those professors who are unable to navigate through the technology, there is the potential for minimal teaching.

It should be noted that not all students have the same access from their home or familiarity with online learning technology, yet there is an expectation to not only adjust to this change in this new learning environment, but to also absorb all of the curriculum and succeed, just as if we were sitting in a classroom. Unfortunately, this is unrealistic.  Not being on campus potentially creates a barrier for students who do not have access to library resources. 

Haverford College has a large population of international students, which will have additional challenges in the shift to remote learning with different time zones, and potential difficulties with accessing technology. All students will not have an equal opportunity to learn. It is unfair to expect a student to attend an online class at 5:00 AM, which is why it is of utmost importance that flexibility with virtual learning is possible for all students. Many students were heavily encouraged to leave campus or denied housing requests, so it is essential that the school accommodates for these situations without causing further harm to any students. With the drastic change in students’ living conditions and academic settings, there is a real risk to the mental, emotional, and physical health of the student body.

To alleviate the stress on students and faculty members during this time, the student body believes it is pertinent to allow all students the option of taking classes for the semester Credit/No Credit. As students of Haverford College, we care deeply about our education and have a great respect for the honor code. We do not believe that offering the option of Credit/No Credit will inhibit students’ effort. It will allow students to manage the rigor of classes and challenges associated with technology and change in both living and learning environment without additional stress. 

With graduate school, medical school, law school, and employers requiring letter grades on transcripts, we request that Haverford include a notation on the transcript that explains that Credit/No Credit is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We greatly appreciate all of the efforts of the Haverford administration, faculty, and staff during this historical time. We hope that this option is seriously considered as we firmly believe that it will allow students the opportunity to focus on our education, despite the challenges, and take into consideration students’ health. 

We look forward to your response.

Thank you in advance.


The Haverford College Undergraduate Student Body