Make Spring Semester Classes “Optional P/D/F” at Princeton University

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is only reasonable that there would be some P/D/F policy to accommodate students severely affected by the crisis. On March 14, The Daily Princetonian published an op-ed in support of making all spring semester classes mandatory P/D/F. We disagree with their conclusion that a mandatory P/D/F would be the best policy for the student body. We believe a mandatory P/D/F policy is unfair to students who would still like to pursue a letter grade. Instead, a better policy would allow students to take classes on the scale (P/D/F or A-F) that they think is best for them given their unique circumstances.

That is, we encourage the university to adopt an optional P/D/F policy, in which any class may be elected as P/D/F without counting as one of the 4 P/D/F selections each student has. While this policy will lead to different grading conditions among students, it is still the ideal policy since it would leave every student in a position where they are best off, by allowing them to decide for themselves. In an effort to further enforce this policy and ensure that such students who choose to elect P/D/F can do so without penalty, we propose that the university not only release a public statement in support of this policy, but also that they add the following footnote after the spring semester name on their academic transcripts:

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, courses were held online and most students were sent home. As such, the university allowed students to elect the P/D/F option as needed; and a student’s choice to elect the P/D/F option for this semester should not be taken to reflect negatively on their academic ability, considering the extreme circumstances.”