Northwestern University announced this week that final exams will be optional for undergraduate students. University Provost Jonathan Holloway said that the decision was made because students are experiencing stress over the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
According to a report by Campus Reform, Northwestern University will not force students to take their upcoming final exams. Students at the university will also be permitted to opt for a “pass/fail” grades for their ongoing courses.
Provost Jonathan Holloway said that the decision to place various restrictions on grading was based on “rapidly disintegrating travel options, the confirmed appearance of COVID-19 on campus and the incredible stress that everyone is trying to manage.”
However, the policy will not apply to graduate students. Each graduate program will make an individual assessment on whether or not final exams will be mandatory.
“After consulting associate deans across the quarter-based schools this evening, it became clear that the complexities and nuances that are woven into end-of-term assessments at the graduate level preclude us from offering a university-wide policy on this matter,” Holloway wrote in a short statement. “Final assessment policy for graduate students will be determined at the school level.”
Students at universities and colleges around the country are demanding changes to the grading policy for the spring semester. Over 2,500 students at Duke University have signed a petition this week to grade all exams on a pass/fail scale.
“The benefits of implementing this administrative change severely outweigh the risks,” the petition reads. “It is much more fair to students that graduate schools and employers see “P’s” on students’ transcripts than potentially risking students getting grades well below their GPA potentially negating all the hard work they have done (and will do in the future), destroying their employment and graduate prospects.”