EDITORIAL BOARD: The 5Cs’ delays in announcing grading policies are hurting students

It has now been over a month since the 5Cs announced they would move classes online and asked students to leave campus. We’re currently in the third week of online classes, and there are just over three weeks until exams begin.

But two of the 5Cs — Pomona College and Claremont McKenna College — still do not have finalized grading policies. Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College and Scripps College all took over four weeks to announce their policies.

The purpose of implementing revised grading policies is to remove stress from students, especially those who do not have the same resources or ability to succeed at home as they did at school. But the schools’ slow pace in finalizing policies has done the exact opposite.

By leaving students uncertain for long periods about what grading policies will be implemented, the 5Cs have added more stress to students’ already heavy burdens — which may include unstable living situations, taking care of (possibly sick) family members, medical difficulties, mental health concerns and more.

While a revised grading policy is certainly a difficult decision, it isn’t impossible — peer institutions across the country quickly adopted new policies, while the 5Cs have dragged their heels.

Columbia University and Barnard College announced their move to universal pass/fail grading on March 20, before classes restarted online.

Amherst College re-started classes on March 23, and announced it was expanding its pass/no credit “Flexible Grading Option” three days later, on March 26.

Harvard College started online classes the same day, and announced a universal “Emergency Satisfactory”/”Emergency Unsatisfactory” policy by the end of the week.

And it’s not as if the faculty haven’t been meeting and making decisions. Pomona College’s faculty, for example, met on April 1 and decided to suspend standardized testing requirements for applicants, but offered no relief for Pomona’s current students with regard to an updated grading policy.

While there was hope that Pomona faculty would decide on policy on Wednesday, voting occured for only one proposed policy before the meeting was called into recess. Following technical issues, a re-vote was called for, further delaying a formal decision.

There is simply no justification for this extended delay. 

While we understand and applaud the schools’ desires to carefully deliberate, hear student input and consider all options, this has dragged on for far too long — the faculty’s indecisiveness is only putting more stress on students. 

It’s time to make a decision.

TSL’s editorial board is comprised of its editor-in-chief and two managing editors, and does not necessarily represent the views of other TSL staff members.

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