Pitzer Student Senate endorses opt-in pass/no credit grading for fall 2020

A man is opening the door into a room with red chairs
Pitzer Student Senate passes a resolution endorsing a proposed opt-in pass/no credit grading policy for the fall 2020 semester. (Domenico Ottolia • The Student Life)

Pitzer Student Senate passed a resolution Nov. 1 endorsing a proposed opt-in pass/no credit grading policy for the fall 2020 semester, citing potential inequalities in students’ online learning environments. 

Currently, Pitzer’s grading policy remains unchanged from a “conventional semester,” according to the college’s website. However, the policy may be revisited if “circumstances change” — what circumstances would need to change, though, is not delineated.

Under the current policy, students may ask a professor’s permission to opt out of receiving a letter grade for a maximum total of 1.0 credits, receiving P/NC instead. Additionally, some departments currently prohibit students from taking major-required classes on a P/NC basis.

Resolution 57-R-06 endorses a revised P/NC grading policy that would allow students to take up to four classes on a P/NC basis for the fall 2020 semester, regardless of other policies like major- or graduation-related restrictions. Students would still need to obtain signatures from the courses’ instructors.

The new policy would extend the deadline to switch from a letter grade to P/NC from Nov. 5 to Nov. 27. 

It would not affect students’ future eligibility for P/NC courses in future semesters. The policy, if implemented, would only apply for the fall 2020 semester but “may be reviewed and renewed in future semesters if deemed appropriate,” according to the resolution.

The Academic Planning Committee previously endorsed this proposed policy Oct. 19, according to the resolution. It was discussed by the Faculty Executive Committee but was not endorsed, FEC chair Muriel Poston told TSL via email. 

It’s unclear what the next steps are for the policy to take effect, and a spokesperson for the school did not respond to a request for comment. 

The resolution declared the current P/NC policy to be “inequitable” because “students have different home environments and are thus unable to succeed at the same levels.” 

During a Pitzer student-faculty forum Oct. 16, “a large number of students” expressed worry over potentially failing courses, with some students considering dropping some, according to the resolution. 

“These are challenging times for everyone, so we hope you will not take our resolution lightly,” Keiser said to Pitzer administrators. “This is only the first step, and more policy changes should follow.” 

In April, Pitzer faculty approved a universal pass/no record grading policy for the spring 2020 semester that weighted each passed class as a 4.0 in GPAs, equal to an A in a normal semester.

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