With the support of the UNC Charlotte Student Senate, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Joan Lorden is looking into extending the pass/no credit grading system implemented during spring 2020 to this fall semester. However, details about this policy change are still in the development phase.
“The policy is under deliberation completely, and no decisions have been made," emphasized College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) advisor Katherine Hibbard.
From Oct. 22-29, the UNC Charlotte Student Senate deliberated whether to support the notion of a pass/no credit grading system for the fall semester. On Oct. 29, the same day the University announced that the system would be implemented in some capacity, the Student Senate approved a legislative act to support a pass/no credit grading system.
Student Senate President Pro Tempore Dick Beekman told the Niner Times that the “Student Government was inspired to start this conversation because of students ... [who] expressed the struggles they faced with the unique challenges posed by this semester…” and he felt obligated to advocate on behalf of a policy that he believes is in the best interests of students.
Jon Mitchell, Speaker of the Senate, had similar thoughts as Beekman. He said that the Student Government “heard numerous concerns from students regarding difficulties in succeeding in their courses...” which, in turn, prompted “a petition [to start] circulating on Change.org from students advocating for a pass/no credit or pass/fail system.”
The petition has already gained traction with 6,968 student signatures out of an initial goal of 5,000. The petition, started by Kate Cronin, requests that Student Body President Tahlieah Sampson, Student Body Vice President Vince Graham and Chancellor of UNC Charlotte Sharon L. Gaber allow UNC Charlotte to “extend their policy of being able to opt-in to a pass/no credit grade substitution to the Fall 2020 semester.”
Mitchell also wanted to make it clear that, although he hopes to have the pass/no credit grading provision implemented this semester, the system change is still being deliberated and has not been made into an official decision. There are still a lot of details that have to be discussed, like what courses or majors might be excluded from the optional grading system.
On Oct. 29, the idea of a pass/no credit grading provision for fall 2020 was also approved by the Faculty Council, according to an email sent out to students. In the email, Provost Lorden stated that “additional details will be determined and communicated ... in the coming weeks,” and “certain critical progression courses in certain majors will be excluded from the provision.” That list of excluded majors and courses has not been provided yet, but will be presented in the next few weeks.
Hibbard added that CLAS cannot comment on the grading policy because a decision has not been finalized.
"When [misinformation] is spread prior to this finalization, it creates a huge mess for faculty, staff and students," she added, referring to the social media platform Reddit where students discuss policy changes like this one.
During the spring 2020 semester, students faced a similar challenge with their course loads when the COVID-19 pandemic forced classes online in March. On Mar. 30, the Faculty Executive Committee voted to create an exception to the UNC Charlotte grading policy for Spring 2020: the pass/no credit system. Under this grading provision students were allowed to replace their grades with the pass/no credit or pass/unsatisfactory grading election option in Banner Self Service. At that time, students were allowed to see their grades for a course before deciding whether to replace it with pass/no credit or pass/unsatisfactory with some extenuating circumstances that prevented a grade replacement.
No UNC Charlotte administrator or faculty member has corroborated that the same procedures will be in place for the fall 2020 semester.
Schools like UNC Chapel Hill, NC State and ECU have already or are in the process of implementing a pass/no credit system for the fall semester. UNC Charlotte will soon join this list of schools, but there are still many details to be finalized.