Pass/No Pass Petition Looks to Reverse Administration’s Decision

Ethan Bachand “22

Chief News Editor

         In response to the increase in workload perceived by the student body, an online petition has been started in order to institute a Pass/ No Pass option at the College of the Holy Cross for the Fall semester. The petition, organized by senior Connor Murphy ’21 on, has received over 1,500 signatures as of Thursday night. A response from the administration, however, indicates that the College has no intention to change their position.

         The petition, titled “Institute Pass/ Fail at Holy Cross for the Fall 2020 semester”, was created out of a consensus amongst some of the student body that the workload for a virtual semester was too overwhelming. This prompted Connor Murphy to start his petition, in an attempt to speak for a portion of the student body. As Murphy put it when responding to The Spire, “I had been thinking about starting it for a couple of weeks before I actually did. The idea initially came to me after having conversations with my roommates, all of whom are in my grade and have been feeling equally as overwhelmed by schoolwork. I texted some friends that lived in different places and received a lot of support for the idea. When the Class Deans sent out the survey wanting to hear about “our remote learning needs” I was hopeful that the administration would realize the increased stress and anxiety of students. When no further action was taken, I felt the need to act.”

         When it comes to expectations for a response from the administration, Murphy looks to the precedent set in the previous semester. In his email correspondence with The Spire, Murphy wrote, “I’m ideally expecting the same policy as last semester – two pass-fail options, pass / fail can’t be used for classes that are major requirements, with a reasonable deadline as to when students can declare pass / fail until. As many students and parents have said in the comment section of the petition, Holy Cross has given no flexibility for students academically and has given half-measures concerning student demands throughout the pandemic.”

         Despite the groundswell of support from the campus community, there has been no official support for this petition from any student organizations. “I’ve received support from individual students rather than student organizations,” Murphy said, “I didn’t really expect a lot of support from organizations seeing as students have their own individual reasons for signing. I would always be open to support from organizations, but it definitely wasn’t an expectation when I created the petition.”

         Yet with all the work put into this petition, the initial comments from officials at the College suggest the idea will be short lived. Provost and Dean of the College Margaret Freije, Ph.D., explicitly stated after a request for comment by The Spire, that “We, like most other institutions, are not considering another exception to our P/NP policy for this semester but we recognize that teaching and learning in this format is challenging.”

         In her response to the petition, Dean Freije recognized the difficulties of this semester, but remained steadfast in saying that the situation in the Fall semester does not merit a similar exception to school policy. As Dean Freije wrote, “The option to allow students to take courses P/NP and still have them count toward their graduation requirements was an emergency exception instituted last semester in recognition of the disruption caused by COVID-19. All of our courses in the spring semester were designed as in-person courses and had to be abruptly shifted to remote learning. Very few of our faculty and very few of our students had any experience with remote learning prior to this shift.”

         Dean Freije continued her remarks by writing, “The situation this fall is a bit different. All of the courses we are offering this fall were designed as courses that would be offered online and students began the courses knowing that they would be online courses. Faculty spent a tremendous amount of time this summer learning about new technologies, discussing strategies for teaching online, and sharing different types of assignments and class structures that work effectively in a remote learning environment. In addition the academic support staff – from librarians to the directors of academic services and the writing center, spent time this summer preparing to support students in a remote learning environment. This is a different semester for teaching and learning but it is not a disrupted semester.”

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