Students walking at Rowan University in Glassboro. Like students, professors and academic advisers are adjusting to the "new normal." - Photo / Miguel Martinez

During the Student Government Association (SGA) Senate meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, senators passed resolution #2020-005, which permits SGA to recommend the university implement an optional pass/no credit system for a minimum of one and maximum of two courses.

The resolution recommends the school offer the pass/no credit system to students earning a grade of ‘D’ or higher in the selected courses, and that students should be allowed to make this selection up to Jan. 24, 2021.

Executive Board and Senate also recommend that the university and Executive Board have the ability to evaluate the necessity for this policy for the Spring 2021 semester by its midpoint.

The resolution’s authors, Jason Brooks, Assistant Vice President (AVP) of student affairs, and Matthew Beck, AVP of academic affairs, used recent Academic Climate Survey data in favor of implementing the pass/no credit option. This survey yielded 1,768 responses, 98% of which were from undergraduate students who submitted their responses from Wednesday, Nov. 4 to Monday, Nov. 9.

“We had set a goal for 500, and within the first three hours, we met that, so there is clearly a lot of enthusiasm behind it,” said Brooks.

Over half of the respondents surveyed (61%) stated that they are currently earning an average of under C+ in their academic courses. Additionally, more than three-fourths of students surveyed (79.5%) stated that they never received a grade under a C+ before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Students who participated in the Academic Climate Survey also overwhelmingly (73.1%) support implementing a pass/no credit system to utilize for a minimum of one and a maximum of two courses. 

The resolution states that students are underperforming due to the mental, physical, emotional and financial strain of learning in a pandemic.

For example, some students need to supplement their families income and take care of loved ones while pursuing an education. Inequities known before the pandemic are exacerbated, resulting in uneven access to technology and quiet working environments for synchronous lectures.

“We listen, so anything people need to bring to us, whether they are struggling or have an experience, talk to us or email us. You can see from this that we listen, and that’s why we are here. Even if it looks gloomy, we are always going to fight,” said Brooks.

However, if approved by the school, students who already dropped classes are at a disadvantage, as it was not clear if that option would be available from the beginning of the semester.

“I wish the university went into this semester offering the pass/fail option; I wouldn’t have dropped one of my classes. This transition online has made it really hard to learn when certain classes try to act as traditional lectures,” said James St. John, a senior biology major at Rowan. “I found myself having more success with asynchronous or partially asynchronous classes as they allow me to take my time and understand the subject.”

Those who are uncertain of their final grades at this point are required to make a delicate decision: either drop a class, which is allowed until Monday, Nov. 23, or wait for the school’s decision on the pass/no credit option.

For comments/questions about this story, email or tweet @TheWhitOnline.