Barnard students push for pass/fail grading option

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One Columbia/Barnard student started a petition requesting that the school give students the option to take their impromptu online classes this semester as pass or fail.

The petition, started by Columbia/Barnard student Samantha Hochstat, has more than 4,000 students supporting it as of March 19.

Hochstat thinks that online classes, while essential, do not allow every student to have a totally equal learning experience, she said in an op-ed. Some students may have poor internet, others may have to care for family members and others may not have a stable place to live, let alone study.

This disparity has the potential to make a regular letter grade scale too rigid, Hochstat said.

Hochstat thinks that letting students choose pass/fail gives them the option to still complete the work they are assigned while adapting to the unique challenges of remote learning.

Barnard moved to online classes for the spring semester on March 11. As of Thursday, several schools have extended pass/fail grading options to their students, including Duke University, MIT, Cornell, Vanderbilt and others.

Hochstat and those supporting the petition think that offering pass/fail grading at Barnard would remove a level of stress at a confusing time.

“It’s time for the University to show their empathy in a tangible way,” Harrison Gale commented on the petition.

Others think that the change in grading reflects the change in education online classes offer.

“Online school is not a Barnard/Columbia education,” Caitlin McCormick commented on the petition.

“Our grades won’t reflect our true abilities,” Riley Peng commented on the petition.

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