Vanderbilt University: Make all Undergraduate Courses Eligible for Pass/Fail Grading

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All undergraduate courses taken during the Fall semester, including those fulfilling graduation requirements, should be eligible for Pass/Fail grading. Under the current global circumstances, the education system has faced various obstacles and forms of adversity making it difficult to provide students with thorough and effective instruction. Events taking place outside of school have placed massive burdens on students causing notable increases in stress, anxiety, fatigue, lack of sleep, decreased appetites and other health issues. The shift to online learning has hindered the directness of education, thwarting student abilities to interact with instructors and peers. This has lead to a dramatic increase in out-of-class work. Students are expected to handle copious amounts of supplementary readings independently, view additional lectures outside of class, and self-teach various lessons in multiple courses. Likewise, the ability to ask questions is severely obstructed during online lectures. Communication with classmates is also more challenging due to restrictions surrounding group gatherings. Furthermore, it has become increasingly difficult to receive personalized feedback on exam and assignment performance. This makes it challenging to understand new course material as students often have not fully understood the preceding material; Thus, performance on cumulative assessments is impaired. Overall, student life has become drastically more challenging and grueling as a result of changes due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. For a student, increased stress tied with noticeable declines in academic performance can deteriorate motivation and be severely detrimental to emotional and physical well-being. Now more than ever, the mental health of the student body must be prioritized by our institution.