Editorial: Set students up to succeed

The ISD Editorial Board argues students should be given the option to make one class pass/fail for this semester. 

The ISD Editorial Board argues students should be given the option to make one class pass/fail for this semester. 

Editorial Board

These are trying and uncertain times. Who knows what the new normal is? Virtual instruction could be a big part of the future of college education, especially when quarantine and self-isolation are parts of our societal expectations now. 

How about instead of “talking the talk,” Iowa State starts walking the walk — because let’s be honest, we have all been negatively affected by the pandemic. (All of us, meaning the administration, professors and, of course, the students.) 

As a community, Iowa State University has been put in a very difficult situation this semester, and despite many of the criticisms (many coming from the Editorial Board), the semester has arguably progressed successfully.

It hasn’t been without hardship, and there’s no reason to think the second half of the semester is going to be any better than the first half. In all likelihood, it could get worse, given the approaching flu season that comes with colder weather. 

But there could be a light at the end of the tunnel, should the administration choose to allow it. Iowa State must offer students the option to pass/fail ONE class for full graduation credit.

Virtual instruction is difficult for both professors and students. Many of the classes currently offered in a hybrid or entirely online format don’t transition well to virtual instruction. It’s neither on the professor for not preparing well enough all summer nor on the students for not putting in enough effort during the semester. For the majority of cases, both parties have acted faithfully trying to make this semester a success.

There are exceptions, of course. Some professors have failed to make use of all of the resources at their disposal, and some students have ignored their responsibilities in learning course material. A single pass/fail option would help to alleviate these unfortunate cases. 

More importantly, though, is helping the very large number of students struggling to learn something without the usual, highly effective, in-person format that universities across the country have utilized for centuries. 

Iowa State is not an online university. Professors didn’t come here to record lectures, and students didn’t come here to login to class. At this point, we’re rolling with the punches and by-and-large, we’re rolling pretty well.

Building on this success, Iowa State needs to offer students the opportunity to continue to succeed. The option to pass/fail a single class for graduation credit ensures that students are still learning the necessary information and skills to be successful after graduation while allowing those students to maintain a GPA high enough to get a job and utilize those skills and knowledge after graduation. 

There are absolutely zero repercussions for Iowa State if they choose to allow students this option. It does not diminish Iowa State University’s reputation nor the reputation of graduates. “The real world” understands the extraordinary circumstances students have been placed in and, quite frankly, doesn’t care about a single class a student might have struggled with.

Would students abuse this luxury if given the option? Probably. But they aren’t being given that opportunity. The Editorial Board is advocating for one pass/fail class to count towards graduation. The number of students who ignored their responsibilities in a class are too few to ignore the positive impact this option will have on the future success of those students who will successfully struggle though this semester.

If you support this idea, consider signing this petition.