Stony Brook University has made its final decision on the extension of the Grade/Pass/No Credit policy (G/P/NC), extending the deadline to the last day of class, or Dec. 7, allowing students to apply the grading policy on up to two classes.
The decision, announced Nov. 3 in an email by Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Fotis Sotiropoulos, follows an earlier extension of the policy to Nov. 6 in reaction to a petition signed by more than 2,200 students to institute last spring’s Pass/No Credit (P/NC) policy.
“Both the new deadline and the opportunity to select two courses with this grading option will be in place for the Fall 2020 semester only,” Sotiropoulos wrote in the email. “After this semester, we will revert to the standard policy, which states that students may elect to exercise the G/P/NC option for one course.”
G/P/NC is a grading option that allows students to “select a threshold letter grade as the minimum acceptable grade,” for one of their courses. If the threshold is met, the grade is reported on their transcript. If the grade is lower than the set threshold but above an F, the student would earn a P that counts for credits without affecting their GPA.
Earning a P does not fulfill DEC, SBC or major and minor requirements. If the student failed the course, the course would then give a grade of N/C or no credit, and their GPA would not be affected. The G/P/NC policy also cannot be used in certain classes at the university, like those in the health sciences program.
The P/NC grading system is a similar option that could be used for multiple classes and counts grades over a C as passing, allowing students to meet their graduation requirements and avoid potentially lowering their GPA. The system was implemented last spring to help students adapt to online classes. The deadline for students to institute the P/NC last semester was available until two weeks after finals.
Sotiropoulos wrote an op-ed published by The Statesman on Oct. 27, explaining the different ways that the G/P/NC or P/NC option affect students’ transcripts and future opportunities, including financial aid eligibility and admission eligibility to other institutions.
The petition to reinstate the P/NC policy was drafted by Sophia Zhukovsky, a junior political science and environmental humanities major. She argued that the circumstances created by the COVID-19 crisis that put students online in the middle of last spring’s semester still persist during the current semester, including external factors that can hinder their academic performance, like technological issues, anxieties brought on by the pandemic and less concrete class schedules.
In an interview with Zhukovsky after the administration’s final decision for the G/P/NC option, she expressed her disappointment with the university’s decision and hoped that at least one P/NC course would have been instituted. Although she also said that she respects the university’s willingness to listen to and consider student requests.
“I do respect the decision because I believe a lot of consideration went into that decision on the administration’s end,” Zhukovsky said. “I’m appreciative also of the significance of that decision. With the help of this petition and the students that signed it we got… a policy change for a body of over 17,000 undergraduate students. That’s really significant.”
Students from the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and Zhukovsky also met with the provost’s office before the email on Nov. 3 was sent out, in order to give feedback on the final decision — which had already been made by the administration, according to Zhukovsky.
“We were able to discuss how the G/P/NC option was going to be changed [and] the specifics of how the university’s gonna alleviate the stress that the student felt this semester,” Undergraduate Student Government President Huntley Spencer said.
Although the final decision regarding the P/NC option at Stony Brook University was made, Spencer said that the State University of New York Student Assembly (SUNYSA) — the student governing body of SUNY — are having further discussions to push for the P/NC or similar policy on a SUNY wide level.