UB amends grading policy for spring semester

Students will be allowed to resign classes, elect satisfactory/unsatisfactory option through last day of exams

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UB will allow students to resign classes and elect to have their grading changed from a letter grade to satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) through the last day of spring 2020 exams, the university announced Saturday.

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Graham Hammill and Dean of Undergraduate Education Ann Bisantz wrote in a student body email that they intend the policy changes “ease [students’] transition to distance learning and support [their] academic success.” 

UB will allow students to resign classes through the last day of final exams, as opposed to the end of the 11th week of classes. The university is asking students to speak to an academic and financial aid advisor about the decision, as choosing to resign a course may result in a financial penalty and an “R” grade on a student’s transcript.

UB’s decision follows Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s March 11 announcement that all SUNY and CUNY schools would transition to a "distance-learning" model for the remainder of the spring semester, in response to the evolving threat of COVID-19.

The school will also allow students to request an S/U grade through the last day of final exams, as opposed to the end of the drop/add period. S/U credits do not count toward a student’s grade point average.

Spring 2020 credits are excluded from the maximum 25% of S/U credits allowed toward a degree. Students in the nursing, accounting, occupational therapy and physical therapy programs may be asked to “recover letter grades in major courses and pre-requisites in the future,” according to the email.

Faculty will grade students as usual during the semester. The university will then convert these grades to the appropriate S/U grade if students choose to do so.

Eugenio Palau, a freshman communication major, thinks the new policies will help students transition to online learning.

“I like the fact that we can choose to have pass or fail [grades] because we didn’t sign up for online classes and not everyone can learn the same way online,” Paulo said.

Mat Nguyen, a sophomore business major, is supportive of the changes, but said he thinks students may be decentivized to work as hard.

“I feel that having a pass/fail grading style for our classes would create less stress for us,” Nguyen said. “But at the same time, I feel students wouldn’t put as much effort into their classes and the learning aspect would be diminished.”

Other colleges have also made the switch to an S/U grading system. Duke University has completely transitioned to S/U grades, although students can apply to receive letter grades. Smith College in Massachusetts has instructed to grade students on both an S/U and letter-grade scale.

“Providing these options should ease your transition into remote course delivery and promote strong engagement in your courses,” Hamill and Bisantz wrote. “Our very best wishes are with you throughout this extraordinary time.”

Alex Lenneberg contributed to the reporting.

Justin Weiss is the senior sports editor and can be reached at justin.weiss@ubspectrum.com

JUSTIN WEISS


Justin Weiss is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or doing both at the same time. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald.