After a lengthy debate and widespread student activism, Yale University announced plans to adopt a universal pass/fail grading policy.
Yale College Dean Marvin Chun announced the policy change in an email to Yale students and faculty on Tuesday morning, clarifying that it will be the University's final grading policy alteration in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Chun wrote that it should be "extremely rare" for students to receive a failing grade on their transcript because students are able to withdraw from courses until the last day of finals.
Yale is the fourth Ivy League school to adopt a mandatory pass/fail policy, after Harvard University, Columbia University, and Dartmouth College implemented similar measures. Earlier this week, Brown University extended its deadline to opt in to satisfactory/no-credit grading to May 1, while Cornell University extended its deadline to opt in to satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading to May 12. Both deadlines are the last day of classes for each school.
Penn's April 13 deadline is now the earliest in the Ivy League by a margin of more than two weeks.
Yale's decision reverses the University's previous opt-in Credit/D/Fail policy, which was announced on March 20. Dissatisfied with the initial decision, many Yale students protested for a "universal pass" grading scale, citing equity discrepancies students are experiencing because of the shift to online classes.
The Yale College Council, the University's undergraduate student governing body, endorsed the universal pass policy after 68% of respondents to a YCC poll expressed support for universal pass. Students also mobilized on social media, creating a "No Fail Yale" Facebook page to advocate for the universal pass policy. The page has garnered more than 1,700 likes since its creation on March 16.
A faculty member poll indicated 55% support for universal pass and 40% support for the Credit/D/Fail policy, the Yale Daily News reported.
Penn announced on March 20 that students will be able to opt in to pass/fail grading for all classes by April 13, including those that count toward major or general education requirements. On March 29, University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that there is "no plan to modify the pass/fail options any further this term.”
Some Penn faculty members petitioned in favor of a mandatory pass/fail policy, prompting Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Steven Fluharty to email SAS faculty members on March 24, affirming that Penn has no plan to adopt mandatory pass/fail grading.
Penn's Undergraduate Assembly conducted a survey of the student body and reported last week that about 60% of students support a Double/Triple A model — in which students will receive either an A or A- on their transcript — and 30% of students support universal pass/fail. The UA urged the University to push back the deadline to opt in to pass/fail grading to the end of the semester.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Brown University extended its deadline to opt in to pass/fail grading, while in fact Brown extended its deadline to opt in to satisfactory/no-credit grading, which is different from pass/fail. The DP regrets this error.