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Penn Should Implement Universal Fail. Here’s Why.


Photo (with edits) by Isabella Cossu / The Daily Pennsylvanian

In light of complications brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Wendell Pritchett announced that Penn would be adopting a new grading policy, allowing students to opt-in to take any class pass/fail. While these changes are welcome and are surely a step in the right direction, they simply do not go far enough. To account for the unprecedented disruption to students’ daily lives, Penn must switch immediately to a universal fail policy.

Yes, that’s right. Regardless of their academic performance or achievements during the past semester, students should receive a “fail” on their transcript for all of their classes.

In the comfort of the Penn campus bubble, all students have access to the same resources — wild, unhinged parties, marijuana, and an endless supply of alcohol. Due to the advent of remote learning, this is no longer the case. Free of Penn’s influence, some students will be at a disadvantage, as they will have no choice but to focus on course work without distractions from 4 a.m. body shots. In contrast, those who have the resources to bring the college experience into quarantine will have a fun semester while their lame-o peers are stuck studying all day. Why should less advantaged students be obliged to study for their boring classes simply because they don’t have the key to their parents’ wine cellar? The only way to ease this concern is to award a 0.0 GPA to everyone this semester.

Even though schools such as MIT and Columbia have already implemented mandatory pass/fail, grades aren’t everything, you nerd. We are living in the midst of a global health pandemic — surely there are more important things than whether or not you pass writing sem or fulfill the requirements necessary for graduation. Failure for all would do wonders for mental health.

On Monday, the weekly grind of online classes and assignments will start anew. While some will be smoking bowls, sipping cognac, and blasting Eternal Atake at full volume, others will not have that same luxury. These are extraordinary circumstances, and the university should treat them as such. A universal fail policy would ensure that no student will be forced to pass their classes, no matter their circumstances at home.