Image by silviarita from Pixabay
This has been a very difficult semester for students and educators alike. The level of communication we’ve received about potential changes in policy and methods of learning hasn’t been the most appropriate or conducive to our mutual success. While many professors on campus have been phenomenal when it comes to rolling with the punches, supporting their students, and ensuring that the material presented is actually learned, many educators have struggled to provide such an experience. This is sometimes in part due to the material which their course consists of, but for others it is simply due to political and personal beliefs and characteristics that make them less fit to be teaching during this time.
I’m not saying that they aren’t good professors. Tech has done a fantastic job at hiring some of the best people to teach the next generations of thinkers. However, during these unparalleled and unprecedented circumstances, some educators really seem as though they could use a lesson in empathy. I have listened to a professor aggressively shut down innocent questions from students about their plans for the rest of the semester, refusing to answer and discuss these plans before the last possible moment simply because they disagree with the restrictions occurring within the state.
It doesn’t make sense to be paying the same amount in tuition when so much of our learning is currently being done remotely. There are often unforeseen hurdles while self-educating which prevent students who otherwise are completely dedicated to their studies from achieving as much as they would usually be capable of. The later drop period doesn’t do a whole lot for students who already took out loans or are on scholarship, as many loans and scholarships are subject to the amount of credits you take each semester.
I believe that optional pass/fail should remain the norm as long as we are teaching ourselves remotely. This allows students to continue attending school without being overly concerned that the pandemic will cause their GPAs to plummet. We’re not looking for an easy way out — we’re looking for any reason to believe that staying in school right now is a good idea. While many professors are aware of this and very willing to work with students to ensure that they both actually learn the material as well as pass the class, this is not something that administration can guarantee across the board. Unfortunately, there are some professors with different personalities that just do not seem to be aware of the current state of the world and the difficulties that may have arisen due to it. It is specifically due to these more intractable individuals that optional pass/fail should be allowed — not only would this provide a more reasonable educational atmosphere for students, but it could also provide administration with an idea as to which professors would benefit from additional education on empathy. This necessity for continued education should not be seen so much as a reprimand, but rather as a unique and exciting opportunity to improve their communication skills and flexibility. We have the ability now to become better, more understanding and accepting people than ever before. Let’s embrace it. Until then, let’s keep students invested in their own education.