By Steven Mehling
*This story was originally written on Nov. 28, 2020*
With the fall semester coming to an end in just four short weeks, students at the University of Maryland have pushed for the provost to adopt the pass/fail grading system. After having heard out the students’ requests for this system to be enacted, Provost Mary Ann Rankin decided to instead push the deadline to withdraw from one course to November 30.
Students across UMD have been struggling to focus on their academic course work amidst an ever-changing pandemic and an adjustment to online courses. The university’s Student Government Association’s Director of Academic Affairs Alysa Conway cited multiple reasons as to why students are requesting a switch to a pass/fail grading system this semester.
“COVID is not going away, and it’s still impacting students greatly,” said Conway, a senior government and politics and public policy double major. “Through their mental health, through their ability to stay focused, especially with them being able to work through their classes this semester.”
The SGA recently passed a bill advocating for the adoption of a pass/fail policy, and sent that bill to the president and the provost to review, according to Conway. They are hoping to hear back soon, so that a resolution on the issue can be agreed upon that benefits all parties involved.
As for the student body, some have been overwhelmed with the amount of work they’ve encountered this semester in their courses. For junior government and politics major Anna Smillie, the fact that the university has yet to adopt this grading policy has been “unsettling.”
“COVID cases are hitting an all-time high in the U.S. and students are dealing with everything from high stress to loss, and it’s the least the university can do,” said Smillie. “Other Big Ten schools and plenty of universities across the country have started providing this option again, and I find it unsettling that UMD hasn’t followed suit.”
For freshman government and politics major Caroline Howser, her first semester on campus has not warranted a need for pass/fail from her perspective.
“In my personal experience, all of my professor’s have been so understanding,” said Howser. “So since professors have been so lenient, I don’t think pass/fail is really necessary.”
Howser added that when the petition for pass/fail circulated around, she signed out of support for other students. She said that even though she herself wouldn’t need it to happen, she wanted to support her friends and the people around her pushing for it.
As the SGA has been awaiting a response from the provost and president, Conway assures students that the fight will continue.
“I believe that even though this [the withdrawal deadline] is what I believe to be a bad call, this is not the final call.”