As of March 20, 2020, the University of Utah offered the option for students to opt for CR/NC (pass or fail) rather than a letter grade. At first glance, this optional grading system seems to accurately address the difficulty some students face during COVID-19 outbreak. However, by making CR/NC optional, it leaves students who are burdened with financial hardships and a lack of appropriate resources (such as limited internet service, family care, among numerous other hardships) at a disadvantage.
Some scholarships and programs mandate that students attain a certain letter grade, leaving the student no option but to compromise their mental and physical health (not to mention their families’ health) in order to get a higher education. In fact, many of the students who are most affected by COVID-19 are reluctant to change into CR/NC as it might hinder their chances of being accepted into graduate school or future employment. This optional CR/NC only furthers the social-economic disparities since those who are struggling in this crisis must sacrifice both themselves and their education while others may think of this as an opportunity to boost their GPA.
The University of Utah should take a stance against such inequity and push for a universal pass system that allows all their students to pass regardless of their current grade in the class (no option for letter grade) and further promote their values of putting their students first. I sincerely hope that in stressful times like this, no one should be worried about whether they are going to pass their classes and pray that our university shares the same concerns.
—Jin Heo, student at the University of Utah
Editor’s note: Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, tiredness and shortness of breath. These symptoms are believed to occur between two and 14 days after a person is exposed to the disease. If you have these symptoms and have recently come into contact with a person who is known to have COVID-19, or if you have recently traveled to an area with community spread of the disease, you should call your doctor. Areas with community spread of COVID-19 are believed to include China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Seattle. If you do not have a doctor who you visit regularly, please call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 or the University of Utah Health hotline at 801-587-0712. Do not go to a healthcare facility without first making arrangements to do so.