Students await pass/fail decision

GPA difference with and without the pass/fail policy. Christina Cannady | Photographer

By Ava Dunwoody | Staff Writer

As the semester comes to a close, the clock is ticking on the administration to make a decision about Don’t Fail Me Now, a proposed pass/fail bill. On Nov. 19, the student senate voted 37-2 in favor of the bill, and it is now up to the Provost office to make it official.

Little Rock sophomore senator Ginger Gordon, academic affairs chair, helped present the bill during the initial student senate meeting and said the senate does its best to represent the student body as a whole. Gordon said she was surprised by the overwhelming support for the bill.

“I was expecting it to be a lot more controversial,” Gordon said. “The fact that there were no cons presented in full senate was very encouraging, and I was glad it was nearly unanimous.”

Gordon said many students reached out to her prior to the bill being approved asking for a pass/fail option. She said she thinks the student body is in favor of this.

Faculty Senate Chair Matthew Cordon is typically involved with administrative decisions like this. He said while the faculty senate’s decision is not a formal approval, it is used as input for the provost office to make a final call.

“We are an advisory body,” Cordon said about the faculty senate. “We are not a governing body in the form of motion or resolution, but because of our role as the elected voice of the faculty, we have considerable input into decisions like this.”

Cordon said the issue with the pass/fail bill is the timing. Under usual circumstances, the faculty senate would meet and discuss this bill on the senate floor before bringing a consensus to the provost office for consideration. However, their next meeting is not until Dec. 12.

Special sessions of the faculty senate have been held before, but Cordon said he is reluctant to call one for the pass/fail bill because he doesn’t think there will be unanimous attendance as a result of the extended break. Because of this, Cordon said he doesn’t expect the faculty senate to have input on the provost’s decision.

Houston sophomore Marisa Delgado said she thinks the bill should be approved by the provost office. Delgado said she is a nursing major and recently tested positive for COVID-19, meaning she has experienced firsthand the difficulties of this semester.

“Especially right now with everything going on with COVID, there are so many different things that are impacting students negatively,” Delgado said. “I think that would be a really good step from the school to show they are taking into consideration everything that students are having to go through on top of a stressful semester of school.”

Delgado said she has had a difficult time in quarantine trying to stay productive and focusing on her schoolwork. She said she is experiencing a lack of motivation and additional stress, which makes it hard for her to apply to nursing school, study for finals and retain the information she is learning.

“With no breaks, teachers have been putting out more work and a lot more pressure on students to get assignments in on time faster than we normally would, so I feel like the workload is super overwhelming,” Delgado said. “It can get very mentally draining and also physically draining, so I think the pass/fail bill can help alleviate some of that stress concerning grades right now.”

Hewitt sophomore Bennett Glanzer, on the other hand, isn’t so sure he would use the pass/fail option if given the choice. He said right now, he is making all As, so it wouldn’t help him to choose pass/fail. Glanzer said he knows if the bill passed, it wouldn’t affect him because it’s optional, however, he would wish to have known sooner.

“If I had known this was an option for the entire year, I maybe could have focused on a few other things throughout my semester,” Glanzer said. “I could have used more time with friends or work or family, so it’s kind of discouraging to be presented with this now.”

It is uncertain when the administration will make a decision whether or not to give students a pass/fail option for their classes this semester. Baylor spokesperson Lori Fogelman spoke on behalf of the provost office and said it is being considered.

“Here’s what I can tell you,” Fogleman said, “Student Senate resolutions are non-binding, but we will take this under advisement.”