By Noah Tellez
Within the past four weeks, the world as we know it has been completely flipped outside down. Work has ceased, schools are closed, even playgrounds and beaches are closed to the public. Having said this, we must move swiftly to adapt to this unique situation as any other species would. Part of this adaptation process involves taking risks on unorthodox methods of doing things to fit extremely unorthodox times. For example, restaurants who have never permitted anything but dine-In and take-out now must open for curbside pickup and delivery to stay afloat. Our most fundamental systems are not immune to change either, including the secondary education system. Many colleges around the country have changed from traditional letter grades to a pass/fail system, helping students by allowing them to choose between their letter grade or a “pass/fail” that would not affect their cumulative GPA. We at Bryant University should also adopt this policy, as it is only right for us to adapt with our surroundings and put our students in the best situation to succeed.
As a student at Bryant, I can say that returning home to finish this semester has certainly been a nuisance. Obviously, it is the right thing to do, but I miss being on campus with my fellow Bulldogs. In addition to the obvious hassle of having to move out of my room early, getting my schoolwork in order was even more difficult. Online assignments are difficult to keep track of and with every professor doing things slightly different there is no baseline model to aid students. I have been figuring out where each professor puts assignments, schedules, handouts, etc. on Blackboard, because it is impossible to get work done until it is organized and accounted for. However, I have found that with five different classes, professors, peers, etc. it is still extremely hard to keep track of every assignment with the expectation of completion on time. In fact, a few of my assignments have gone unnoticed by me merely
because I did not even know they existed online and didn’t hear them mentioned in class, and I feel as though I am certainly not the only one with that issue. This sentiment is shared by my peer Kyle Beaton, a freshman at Bryant who is also in favor of the pass/fail system. “This is a completely different style of learning that some students have not experienced before which can be really hard for them,” Kyle stated. These issues have caused me stress because my grades may be affected by these inconveniences, and a pass/fail system is the only way to ensure that doesn’t happen in a fair way.
Covid-19 is the first widespread global pandemic since H1N1 in 2009, but it is surely the most memorable of the last few decades. The amount of fear seen within the global population is the most alarming because no one knows if a vaccine will be developed, and if so when that will be. In addition, there are numerous people that still must report to work, including hospital workers, restaurant employees, and much more. These people are at high risk of contracting the novel virus, and this gives students and faculty at home a lot to worry about. Having said this, it is imperative that the school make an effort to take some pressure off of their students in such trying times, because we truly do have an abundance of things to worry about as human beings and school may not be the top priority at the moment.
Although this system is seemingly the same as giving students a “get out of jail free” card in Monopoly, there is no alternative way to rightfully consider the numerous variables present in students’ new learning environments. For example, a test could be submitted late merely because of a Wi-Fi shortage at a home and depending on the professor this could result in a zero. This student would have to stomach a likely failing grade unless he could choose pass or fail, making this the only logical approach. In addition, this option would still allow students to decide for themselves, and after all it is our education to take charge of.
In an ideal world, we would never be in this situation to begin with. However, we now must make the best of it and move forward, and a pass/fail system is the best way to move forward for the sake of our students and staff. Although we are all at this university out of lust to better ourselves through education, it is important to realize that there are times were education takes a back seat, and temporary changes are necessary to ensure long-term success.