Editorial: We need the pass/fail option


Photo credit: Mikayla Ferro & Daniel Schwalm

Daniel Schwalm

It’s been a hard year for all of us. We don’t think we need to re-hash why. We all know. With so much going on in the world, many students are suffering academically because they simply have too much going on outside of school. Many of us need help.

We need Loyola to bring back the pass/fail option this semester and we need it yesterday. Most, if not all, students at this school are struggling. Even those of us who are doing well in our classes are suffering for it. We’re exhausted and stressed out. We need the security of knowing that, if things fall apart, we can take the pass/fail option and get through the semester without sinking our GPAs.

For the past two semesters, Loyola has given students the option to switch their classes to pass/fail instead of letter grades. This was a laudable decision on the part of the administration. It has, so far, helped many students get through the pandemic without their GPA taking a big hit. However, the rollout of this option hasn’t been perfect.

In spring 2020, the pass/fail option was announced shortly after everyone was sent home for the semester—again, a commendable response in a time of crisis. However, students had to decide whether or not to go pass/fail before they saw their final grades. We had to guess at whether it would help or hurt us. That wasn’t necessary. It caused students a lot of pointless stress and made it harder for them to make the decision that was best for them.

Last semester, Loyola made a change to the policy—they listened to students and allowed us to choose the pass/fail option after we saw our final grades. This was a necessary change, and we were all glad to see the school administration listening to and acting on students’ concerns.

However, they waited until November to announce that pass/fail would be an option at all. That meant that many students spent almost all semester worrying about their grades, only to find out at the last minute that they would have the option.

That’s a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. Students have been vocal about mental health struggles all year. We’ve made it clear that many of us are not okay. Our administration needs to recognize those struggles and act quickly to help. Don’t leave us in the dark.

Loyola’s handling of the pass/fail option throughout the past year has been, for the most part, impressive—we’ve seen our administration listen to students and adjust to meet their needs. That’s why we’re hopeful that they’ll listen to us now.

All of the reasons that the pass/fail option was made available before still apply. Students’ lives are as hard, if not harder than they were the past two semesters. Many of us are going to need all the help we can get.

We need the pass/fail option. We need to have a safety net. And we need to know about it now. Don’t leave us to worry all semester about whether or not we’ll have the option. We’re stressed. We’re anxious. Don’t wait. Help us now.