The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 8th

UNC removes pass/fail option from registrar's site, stirs confusion among students

DTH Photo Illustration. With fall semester approaching, students are preparing for what academics in the fall will look like during the reopening of UNC in the wake of COVID-19.
Buy Photos DTH Photo Illustration. With fall classes moving to a remote format, it is unclear if UNC will offer a past/fail option for the semester.

A post on the Office of the University Registrar’s webpage that announced a pass/fail option for fall 2020 courses has stirred confusion among students after the University took down the update. 

A cached version of the deleted page — which was taken down Wednesday morning — said undergraduate students would have until Nov. 17 to decide whether they want their class to be pass/fail. These courses could still apply to a student’s major and graduation requirements. 

In a statement to The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s Media Relations said a draft version of the site was “mistakenly” published with information that has yet to be finalized. UNC has since password protected the page. 

“We apologize for any confusion,” UNC’s Media Relations said in the email. “We will be able to share the policy and details with our community soon.”

The University did not provide additional comment on the post to UNC students, leaving many confused on whether the pass/fail policy will be implemented.

“We're not surprised,” Mykēl Yancey, a junior majoring in biology, said. “We’re in the dark about something. At this point in time, they should at least send us an email or something to just notify us of what’s going on, instead of leaving us in the dark like they always do.”

UNC originally offered a pass/fail option to students after transitioning to remote learning during the spring semester, and later extended the option to the summer term.

At a July 30 meeting of the Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity, Katie Cartmell, associate director for retention for Academic Eligibility and Outreach, said students "should expect to be graded in the fall," when asked if the pass/fail option would roll over to the fall. 

To students, a pass/fail option can make or break the semester, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the spring term, Yancey said he chose to take two of his hardest classes — General Descriptive Chemistry I and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I — as pass/fail because it was difficult to grasp onto the material once the class shifted remote. 

If UNC extends the option in the fall, he said he would do the same with his General Descriptive Chemistry II and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory II class. 

"Now that everything is switching online, I have to completely relearn the way I learn and get motivation myself," Yancey said. 

For Jimmy Strickland, an incoming transfer student from Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, a pass/fail option would be hard for him since he doesn’t have an established GPA yet, but sees it as a viable option during the pandemic. 

“It will allow students to focus on themselves,” Strickland said. 

According to a document from the Registrar’s Office, the pass/fail option would apply to students in the College of Arts & Sciences, Kenan-Flagler Business School, School of Information and Library Science, Hussman School of Journalism and Media, School of Education and the Gillings School of Global Public Health. 

There is no limit to the number of courses a student can declare pass/fail. Courses that a student declares pass/fail will not count toward UNC’s typical pass/fail course limit of 23 credit hours, according to the letter. 

Students from UNC’s professional or graduate programs would need to consult with their individual departments in order to see if they could declare any of their classes for a pass/fail grading option according to UNC’s deleted page.  

But, some students feel that UNC’s actions this morning are reflective of a “chaotic” fall semester after classes were moved online and on-campus housing capacities were reduced. 

“We understand (UNC) is going through a lot, but the students are also going through a lot as well,” Yancey said. “They say they care about us, but actions speak louder than words. They’re telling us one thing and doing another.” 


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