Dr. Tracy Kress, an associate professor of biology and chair of the Committee on Academic Programs, attended the Student Government (SG) General Body meeting on Dec. 2 to report and hear recommendations on the committee’s upcoming decision on whether the spring 2020 pass/fail policy should be implemented for the fall 2020 semester.
The normal ungraded policy at the College is very specific in its requirements. It is only available for students who have at least eight course units and can only be used for elective courses. The policy also limits the number of courses a student can use it for to one per semester and would not affect GPA.
The committee received a memo on Nov. 27 requesting they explore an ungraded policy for the Fall 2020 semester. The memo, sent by SG cabinet members, asks specifically to implement a policy exactly like the Spring 2020 interim policy. The committee would also be able to recommend any changes to the policy that it deems better suited to a community now familiar with online courses.
The spring 2020 interim policy essentially opened up the ungraded option to all undergraduate and graduate students. This option could be applied to any course and could be applied after final grades were posted.
Dr. Kress asked SG for feedback or changes to the spring policy to make the fall 2020 policy more focused on the problems students face due to the pandemic, but also more reflective of the progress the College made in improving online classes.
One of the committee’s main concerns is that while this option would allow students to get credit for classes where they might have normally succeeded, but are underperforming because of the pandemic, it would also affect a student’s ability to get into graduate school.
Some graduate schools do not accept pass/fail credits from universities and might not accept applications because of it. The committee believes that if a student does not know whether they want to attend graduate school and uses the ungraded policy, they may regret it if they wish to attend graduate school later in life.
Amy Chielewski, vice president for Academic Affairs and a member of the Committee on Academic Programs, recommended that students should “meet with either their advisor, assistant dean or program chair before deciding to utilise the graded/ungraded option so that they know the potential benefits and risks to using it.”
Dr. Kress also discussed that the committee is worried that applying the spring ungraded policy would create an unfair situation for students that withdrew from some or all classes for the fall because they were not comfortable taking them online, especially since some courses only run once per year. However, she noted that the committee did not have a solution to this problem.
A petition on Change.org has been signed by about 2,300 members of the College community and calls on “the TCNJ administration for more support in these unprecedented times.”
Other New Jersey institutions including Rowan University, Drew University and Rutgers University have implemented variants of an ungraded policy. The committee will make its decision by Dec. 4 and the Steering Committee will make the final decision on whether it will be implemented or not at a later date.
SG also moved to derecognize multiple student organizations during their General Body meeting. This occurs at the end of every semester and is only used for student organizations that do not attend the Student Org Summit and do not re-register at the end of the Spring semester. Creo Consulting, Educators 4 Equity, Mental Health and Positivity Club, Students for Life, Philosophical Society and VegLife have all been deemed unrecognized, but can apply to be recognized during the spring 2021 semester.