Harvard Students Demand Automatic Passing Grades Due to Wuhan Coronavirus

Harvard University
Elise Amendola/Harvard

Students at Harvard University are demanding that administrators adopt a temporary grading system that would automatically pass all students. They proposed the drastic change to the grading system in response to the Wuhan coronavirus crisis.

According to a report from the Crimson, students at Harvard University are fighting for a new grading system to protect students from difficult situations they may be encountering as a result of the Wuhan coronavirus crisis.

Student Benjamin I. Sorkin proposed a “universal pass” system for the spring semester. Sorkin argued that the system could help students that are academically disadvantaged during the virus crisis.

“Given the variety of conditions that students are facing right now at home — whether that’s limited internet access, or having to find a way to make money for the families, or the stress that having another individual in the household brings — it is my belief, and I think the belief in a lot of people in first-gen community, that there should be a different kind of grading accommodation for students during the semester,” Sorkin said in a comment to the student newspaper.

Not all students were on board with the proposal. Carrington McDowell-Walsh argued that the “universal pass” system would hurt students that need to strengthen their academic records. Some students, for example, need to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency in certain subjects to be admitted to medical school.

“The issue with [universal pass] is that for kids who are pre-med, they need grades for certain classes and people who are going to grad school also need grades for certain classes so it doesn’t make sense entirely to do full pass,” McDowell-Walsh said. “It also goes for kids on scholarships because they sometimes need to maintain a certain GPA.”

Harvard was not the first university to propose a “universal pass” system. Students at Yale University proposed a similar model this week that they called “No Fail Yale” that was designed to promote “equity” amongst students.

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