Compassion on Campus: It Never Goes Out of Style


As the pandemic continues to plague our nation, colleges and universities have been grappling with the challenge of what to do about grades in Spring 2020 courses.  Many schools have chosen the familiar option of Pass/Fail, but Syracuse University has followed a different path.  Its instructors can select one of the following when submitting grades this semester:  

  • “Pass with Distinction”
  • “Pass”
  • “Saved by COVID-19”

According to Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud, “our students have been traumatized enough by the coronavirus.  The last thing they need right now is a stigmatizing F on their transcript, bleeding all over the page like a stuck pig on a paper towel.  Although ‘Saved by COVID-19’ is certainly no badge of honor, it’s not as hurtful as an F, and it doesn’t lower your GPA.

“In essence, NO ONE is going to fail ANYTHING at Syracuse University this term.  It’s the least we can do for our students, given that we’ve barred them from campus since Spring Break.  There’s no way we can ever make up for all the sex and alcohol they’ve missed over the past few months because they’ve been living at home with their parents, but eliminating F’s is something we can give them.” 

Student reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.  Randy Loofer, a Pre-Med major from Utica, New York, is ecstatic.  “I was definitely headed for an F in Organic Chemistry this semester.  I had gotten a 12 on the midterm exam, and that was higher than any of my quiz scores.  My goal of becoming a brain surgeon was going down the tubes.  But now I’m back in business, baby, and it’s awesome!  Mom and Dad, can you still get me a Watson-Cheyne dissecting probe with my initials on it for my birthday?  I love you!”

President Syverud, give yourself an for your performance this semester.  And we’re not grading on a curve.