S/U grading system offers options

XU students can petition courses to be pass/fail in up to six academic credits

To ease concerns about remote learning, Xavier has adopted a revised satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system for the spring semester. While many students felt a change was necessary, not everyone is pleased with the university’s decision

Xavier has offered students the option to use Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading for the Spring Semester for up to six credit hours.

This move came on the heels of a petition circulated online amongst students, which has amassed over 2,550 signatures, calling for the university to change to a pass/fail grading scale.

The petition was written by Student Government Association’s (SGA) Senator Michael, and subsequently supported by members of SGA.

“Through some of my friends at the University of Cincinnati (UC), I heard that there was a petition supporting a switch to pass/fail grading circulating,” Senator Michael said. “I thought it was a great idea to support students, so I worked with the author of UC’s petition to craft ours.”

“Everyone was really struggling when this switch was first made, and I heard many people saying ‘I wish Xavier would switch to pass/fail.’ So, as a leader on campus, I saw it as my responsibility to lead this initiative,” Michael added.

Thousands of students got behind the initiative, citing various reasons for signing the petition.

“It feels as if we have just been left to fend for ourselves,” one petiton signer, Maxim Maboja, commented. “It is unjust to expect students to have to learn the material practically on their own… Zoom is a horrible app that lags, and it seems that most teachers are struggling using the app too which ultimately affects students’ ability to learn the material.”

“Online classes do not foster the same learning environment as in-person classes do. This results in lower performance, less desire to do work and this results in lower grades. I want to maintain my GPA,” Caroline Quinn said.

Student opinions on the matter vary, however.

“I think pass/fail should be optional for students and not forced just because it would not help the GPA at all if the students did have good grades,” sophomore history major Julie Lorincz said.

“I would not recommend a pass/fail grading system. It seems too easy and people need to challenge themselves. There are still ample opportunities to learn and academically succeed. It will just look different.” sophomore economics major Mitchell Nee said.

Despite the petition being crafted to mirror UC’s petition, Xavier’s petition did not have the same outcome.

Xavier adopted the policy for a limited number of credit hours, with restrictions varying by department for what classes or grade levels qualify as eligible for S/U. Meanwhile, there are seemingly fewer restrictions for the policy adopted by UC.

“While I am not sure if all of the individual colleges at UC have adopted the policy, from what I understand, there is no cap of the amount of credits you can make pass/fail,” Gracie

Roades, a first-year student at UC, said. “The school just has to approve your request for which classes will become pass/fail and that’s all.”

“When I created the petition, my goal was for a universal pass/fail option for all classes, regardless of major, Michael said.

“I was kind of disappointed with the university’s response because what if there’s a person struggling due to their circumstances in a class that doesn’t fall within Xavier’s requirements for a course to be pass/fail? What if there’s a person struggling with more than two of their classes due to their circumstances? Even some of our fellow Jesuit universities have switched to universal pass/fail, like Boston College,” Michael continued.

Once again, upon the details of the policy being revealed, student reactions were varied.

“I honestly feel pretty indifferent about the pass/fail grading that Xavier announced. I agree with some things but also disagree with others… though as a nursing student I feel that it won’t have as much of an effect for my classes because there is a 74 percent or C minimum in order to pass,“ first year nursing major Hayley Haner said.

Xavier Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Melissa Baumann met with SGA on April 6 to discuss the university’s S/U grading policy. She noted that some students and staff were on complete opposite ends of the issue, with some students desiring that all classes be eligible for S/U grading, while some faculty desired that no classes be eligible for S/U grading.

“I pushed faculty really hard, we all pushed faculty really hard, and we got faculty to come a long way to accommodate the students’ wishes in this case,” Baumann said.

She cited the main concern among faculty members being that S/U grading for all classes would allow students to take it too easy in their classes.

Baumann offered reassurance that students who need the support would receive it, however.

“All students have to do is just reach out and we can make things happen on an individual basis.”

Dr. Dennis Long and Dr. Rachel Chrastil, the faculty members responsible for drafting the S/U policy, both declined to comment on how the university came to its policy decision, though they assured that an update with additional information on the matter would be available on the Xavier website soon.