Coronavirus - Pass / Fail Option - NYU

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Abby Hofstetter
Abby Hofstetter signed this petition

On March 10th, due to the Coronavirus, NYU decided to shift all classes to online through the week of March 27th, with plans to re-evaluate its decision at that time. Unfortunately, as of March 16th, due to the worldwide spread of the virus, NYU has decided to go online for the remainder of the semester.

We, as students, fully recognize the difficulties of this decision, and appreciate the University prioritizing the safety of its students and faculty. Given that NYU is fully online via Zoom, we respectfully request that  NYU follow the precedent of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and provide all students with the option to pass/fail classes and still have classes count toward respective major/minor/concentration requirements. Columbia, St. John’s, UT Austin, GW, and other schools are considering petitions to the same effect.

On March 13, 2020, MIT announced that it would be transitioning to its alternate grading policy, which is a structure of pass/fail grading in the event of significant disruption outlined in Article 2.64 of their rules and regulations manual. We respectfully request that NYU put a similar policy in place for the student body.

Understandably, this ordeal has placed a tremendous amount of stress on both students and faculty. Time zone adjustments have made it difficult for students to attend classes at scheduled times or partake of office hours. Financial difficulties have created uncertainty and only added to overall stress. Moving home has created new responsibilities of caring for family members that interfere with daily life and obligations. Lack of internet accessibility or quiet spaces due to quarantine prevents rigorous studying. These are but a few of the many difficulties that have made it impossible for many students to equally compete with their peers in the academic arena.

If the issues above were not cumbersome enough, students no longer have access to their accustomed support systems. While the student body truly appreciates NYU’s shifting some support programs online, the support is not the same. Counseling, for example, via Zoom dramatically differs from in-person sessions. Further, the suspension of all in-person activities and stress-coping mechanisms such as sports and other recreational activities prevent students from de-stressing in their usual manner. Hence, creating an opt-in pass/fail option will provide the much-needed relief to students coping with this unprecedented crisis.

Additionally, we would like to propose that irrespective of a student’s choice (i.e. pass / failing or letter grade), the class still count towards degree requirements. We recognize that some students need letter grades to be eligible for Graduate School and do not want to hinder their process. Others are seniors in their last semester taking requirements that are otherwise not allowed to be taken pass/fail.  Accordingly, we propose that on the transcript, all pass/fail grades will note the unusual change was due to the COVID-19 that prevented in-person instruction.

We sincerely believe this enactment will benefit the entire student body, and urge NYU to consider the impacts of the COVID-19 on the entire community and join its peers in enacting this proposal.

Thank you for your consideration.