Education / Local

Norfolk State graduate students excluded from temporary “Pass or Fail” grading policy

by Keona Frasier

As the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened world-wide health precautions, Norfolk State is among the many educational institutions that suspended classes in effort to limit the spread of the virus. In response to student upheaval, NSU has implemented a temporary pass or fail option to alleviate academic stress for some students.

For the students that choose this option, this will allow them to avoid any major hits to their GPA, but another demographic of students, graduate students, will still have to adhere to the usual grading scale despite the increased difficulty of social distancing.

NSU emailed students details on how the pass or fail option will work. According to the email, students must receive a minimum grade of a D- to receive a pass and it will not affect the student’s GPA. The student also has the choice of selecting which courses they would like to receive a letter grade for that can be included into their GPA, as long as they notify their course instructor by April 24.

Students enrolled in the graduate program , however, are not being granted this temporary solution, according to a memo from Dr. George E. Miller, III, Office of Graduate Studies Dean. Graduate students will have to maintain a 3.0 GPA to meet their program requirements and uphold good academic standing with the University. In the event that a graduate student falls below a 3.0, the student would be placed on academic probation.

This new development for graduate students has been described as unfavorable by some students and could produce added stress on students with adverse circumstances surrounding the difficulties of online learning in such a rigorous program.

Graduate student Marie Johnson, who has previously earned her B.S. in Mass Communications at NSU, has been particularly vocal about the exclusion of grad students in the new temporary policy.

“When NSU makes decisions, such as grading policy changes, it should be for the benefit of the students. What they may not understand is that their decision only benefits undergraduate students. While dealing with this pandemic, NSU’s graduate school is disregarding the needs of their grad students by forcing us to maintain a 3.0 grade average while dealing with drastic issues,” said Johnson.

She noted that most grad students aren’t expecting the same exact policy as undergraduates.

“We are not asking for pass or fail. Yet, we are asking for a little leniency with the grading expectation during this semester,” said Johnson.

Johnson graduated with honors from NSU and enrolled in the public relations track of the Department of Mass Communication’s graduate program. The decision to not adjust the grading scale for graduate studies is partly what led to Johnson’s decision to transfer to a different institution.

The pass or fail option garnered a lot of social media debate from students and professors on the fairness and efficiency that the policy may or may not bring. However, many students were happy with the university’s final decision.