The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: UNC's pass/fail failures

DTH Photo Illustration. On Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in the face of rising COVID-19 cases on campus, UNC announced it was suspending in person classes that Wednesday and making the immediate transition to an online format. The transition came with little flexibility and no required pause in instruction, a decision that frustrated many students and instructors.

As the student body grapples with the stress of the 2020 election — as well as the prolonged effects of a worsening pandemic — the administration has, to no one's surprise, fallen woefully short in supporting them. 

In August, UNC announced it would extend the pass/fail grading accommodation for the fall semester — but with a catch. Students must decide whether or not to declare their courses pass/fail by Nov. 17, the last day of class, meaning before students take exams and receive their final course grades. 

Students are rightfully frustrated with the policy, which is notably less generous than the one offered in the spring. Recently, a petition circulating on social media has called on the UNC administration to push back the pass/fail deadline. The petition has received signatures from more than 6,000 people. 

The petition cited an article from WRAL’s Laura Leslie, which reported a sharp increase in the mental health needs of UNC-Chapel Hill students — particularly Black students. 

Unfortunately, UNC does not seem to be budging on the issue. The Commission for Campus Equality & Student Equity took to Twitter Wednesday to share that, despite the petition, they were told the pass/fail deadline would not be extended to after finals. 

“We are disappointed and tired,” the commission tweeted. “UNC continues to mimic the current leadership of our nation and inequity and racism continues to prevail within our University’s policies even during a pandemic.” 

The stress and anxiety of current events have not faded. In fact, for most students, the pressures associated with the pandemic, election and recession have only grown. The format of online classes hasn’t changed, and therefore, there is no reason why students would be better equipped to tackle schoolwork this semester than they were the last. So why are we not being given the same accommodations?

Forcing students to make the decision to pass/fail before final exams adds yet another level of stress to what has been an abysmal semester. In many classes, final exams account for 20 to 30 percent of the final grade — a huge factor we won't be able to account for prior to the deadline. 

It's yet another reminder of the University's refusal to acknowledge — let alone care about — the very real hardships students are facing right now. An unprecedented semester calls for unprecedented actions, and we should not be held to the same standards. Perhaps it's naive of us to expect better from the University, but we do. The bar is constantly being lowered, yet we still find ourselves disappointed almost every single time. 

When it comes to compassion and support for its students, UNC does not pass — it fails. 


To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.