During Clemson’s student senate Zoom meeting on March 30, senator’s Tyler Mcdougald and Geoff Gilson presented a resolution to propose grading options for classes in the Spring 2020 semester, due to the effects of COVID-19.
The bill expressed the support of the senate for the development of a procedure to choose between pass/fail or a letter grade option. The resolution raised over 50 reasons and examples of why this resolution should be put into effect; from the change in learning environments, to lack of access to materials in campus residencies to reducing stress on students. Afterword, the resolution was sent to be reviewed again in committee.
That being said, on April 2, the vice president of Academic Affairs and Provost, Bob Jones, announced that Clemson will implement a newly created grading policy for the spring semester. This policy created three grading classifications that allow students with grades A-C to convert any grade for an individual class to pass/fail. There is also a “Special Pass” option available to those who have made a D, and an option to receive no grade for a course.
Students have time at the end of the semester to make their decisions and discuss their options with academic advisors.
Many Clemson students have expressed the struggle they faced during the switch to online learning. A poll recently conducted by several of the senators received 3,355 responses, with 90.6% in favor of introducing a pass/fail option for students. There remain two options for students in the resolution due to a small majority still hoping to receive letter grades that affect their GPA.
West Peterson, a freshman environmental and natural resources major, reacted, reacted to the announcement saying, “This honestly takes such a weight off of a lot of students’ shoulders and is a real sigh of relief. From being kicked out of campus housing to making the switch to online learning, I can finally have some peace of mind about my school work and grades.”
Schools such as Duke University, Northwestern University, College of Charleston, Auburn University and far more have already instituted this pass/fail option. Questions regarding the Dean’s List, President’s List and more have arisen, but have not yet been addressed.
Senator Geoff Gilson, a sophomore political science major, expressed his opinion about the effects on his studies in the switch to e-learning. As a 63-year-old originally from London, Gilson has worked to be a key member of the student body while also addressing issues he has seen on Clemson’s campus.
Before the change in the semester, Gilson planned to address ideas in seeking student representation on the Board of Trustees, lowering the minimum number of credit hours to nine, advocating for the university to provide basic selfdefense courses and looking at ways to reduce sexual victimization.
“I’m not an anecdote. I am the anecdote. The reason I started writing this resolution last Monday night [March 30] is because I’m one of the ones who is struggling,” Gilson said.
“This is just one more way we are working to address the unprecedented situation in which we all find ourselves,” Jones said in his email to students and faculty.
The switch to online learning and closure of campus has proved to be difficult to many students, including Gilson.
With the switch in grading policy, Clemson hopes to provide additional support and peace of mind to its students after the disruption caused by COVID-19.