Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Late last week, the faculty approved a proposal to extend the deadline to declare or remove credit/no credit status on a class. Previously, credit/no credit (also called “pass/fail”) status had to be declared within two weeks from the start of classes (during the add/drop period); now students have until nine weeks into the semester to add or remove credit/no credit status. The change was announced to students in an email from Student Council co-president Tom Evnen yesterday.
The changes will, according to Evnen, allow students to more accurately assess the workload of classes, particularly after they have received graded work back, and allow them to “take more intellectual risks.” Educational Policy Representative Eleanor Joseph ’07, who wrote the proposal, said in an email that the change will make students “more active and better informed contributors to the course for a longer duration of time, making for a better classroom dynamic and benefiting other students enrolled in the class,” and that it may promote more experimentation in course selection, possibly diminishing overcrowding in introductory classes.
Joseph, who included the idea for the change as a plank in her election platform last spring (she was recently elected to a second term), brought the proposal to Student Council for further development and then to the Curriculum Committee, which consists Provost Constance Hungerford, representatives from the faculty, deans, and student representatives Joseph and Smita Ghosh ’06. “I’m all for the change,” said Hungerford in an email yesterday.
The proposal was discussed and further refined in several meetings of the Curriculum Committee, but eventually was endorsed. Joseph says she was “pleasantly surprised that it passed with such a great show of support.” It was then brought to the faculty, where it passed, according to Hungerford, “quite resoundingly,” late last week, though was concern among some faculty “about putting too much attention on grades per se.”
The proposal is in some ways similar to one that failed several years ago, but differs in some important respects. The earlier version advocated for the right of students to, at the end of the semester, “uncover” letter grades they received in classes they had declared credit/no credit. This version only extends the deadline, keeping the policy otherwise identical.