Allow Northeastern U. Students to Take Courses Pass/Fail Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Purpose:

The purpose of this petition is to urge President Aoun, the Northeastern University Administration, and the Registrar to extend the Universal Pass/Fail grading options to the Fall 2020 semester.  

Background:

Northeastern University has shown its blatant disregard for student’s emotional and physical wellbeing, as well as their current financial situations, through their reaction to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Throughout the Fall 2020 semester, Northeastern has been touting its “Protect the Pack” mantra as if they cared about students for anything other than their tuition money. The university’s stance to charge full tuition, whether students are on campus or remote, illustrates their gross negligence through the failure to identify the significant decrease in education quality. Furthermore, the university’s negligence in ensuring student success and socio-physiological wellbeing is a flagrant violation of their core values. The university identified how the COVID-19 is negatively impacting people’s mental health and well-being, and yet still failed to provide students with adequate resources (outside of the measly “5 free sessions with a licensed clinician” which are extremely difficult to schedule given the demand).

Northeastern students have been set up for failure this semester, as it is clear that the remote structure of learning has negatively affected the quality of education that we are receiving as well as student’s ability to succeed in class. While many professors are trying quite hard to bolster student success, many students are dealing with external issues this semester due to the COVID-19 Pandemic which is creating additional pressure to perform well in school to fulfill their scholarship GPA requirements, co-op GPA requirements, and for their future Graduate/Medical/Law school applications. We feel as though by holding us to the same standard, even when the information and knowledge provided is subpar and abysmal in some cases, that Northeastern is failing their core values of Integrity, Contribution, Opportunity, and Engagement. I, for one, am appalled to have to identify with a university that failed its students in one of the most challenging periods of our lives.

Many reputable universities across the country have extended their Pass/Fail grading accommodations to the Fall 2020 semester. This list of universities includes:

-   Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

-   Tufts University

-   Brown University

-   The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)

-   Duke University (DU)

-   Amherst College

-   The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)

-   University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass)

-   Brandeis University

-   The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

-   The University of Delaware (UOD)

-   DePauw University (DPU)

-   East Carolina University (ECU)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is so committed to student’s success that they have eliminated “the possibility of failing a subject, for performance at the level of F.” MIT stated that these “safety nets [are necessary] to ameliorate the effects of the significant disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on students and instructors." Furthermore, Tufts University extended their EP/F grading deadline to December 11, 2020, with the option to elect EP “for any or all of their courses for Fall 2020.” By allowing students the option to opt for Pass/Fail letter grades in their courses, Northeastern would be truly positioning their students for success, considering students will be scrutinized by future employers and universities for their performance each semester. While many things are out of the university’s control, this would be an easy way to alleviate a significant burden on student’s shoulders. Northeastern cannot continue to resume business as usual without acknowledging the significant hardships that students are facing or providing accommodations for them.

In conclusion, I implore the Northeastern Administration to review the National Institute for Learning Outcomes’ Assessment directed at Responding to a Global Pandemic, which outlines the many do’s and don’ts that universities should be adhering to amidst this global pandemic. Furthermore, I implore the administration and the registrar to listen to their student’s needs, rather than implementing ridiculous policies without respect or consideration for their students.

Sincerely,

Catherine Argyrople and the Northeastern University Student Community