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Noah's Ark: Where is the S-grading option?

Online classes are miserable. There isn’t really a better way to put it. The quality of education is lower, the opportunities are absent and the environment is isolating. The last 2.5 semesters have been devoid of joy for plenty of students at Ohio University. 

However, in the spring of 2020 and fall of 2021, OU attempted to alleviate this suffering with a new grade offering: the satisfactory, or S, grade. 

The reasoning behind this was described as “an effort to ensure students' successful, uninterrupted progress toward degree completion.” It was clear the university was aware of the mental and physical toll online classes would take on students, and wanted to ensure their well-being and success. However, that concern is absent for spring 2021. Nearly halfway through the semester, the committee tasked with putting the option into action, has not reinstated it — for reasons that are unclear. 

Obviously, it is not a university’s job to coddle students and hand out A’s to everyone, but that’s not what the S-grade is. Most major-specific classes were barred from S-eligibility. So, students were not slacking off in classes they actually need for their career and just taking the satisfactory grade. 

Many of the classes open to S-grades were general education courses that have little long-term utility for most students, and are simply filler classes that would typically help a student achieve a more robust educational experience. Unfortunately, the online learning environment is not only unconducive to robust learning, but prohibitive. 

What the satisfactory grading scale did was create a safety net for mistakes made by students working in an alienating environment. No other OU student in the history of the university has had to adjust to university-wide changes this abrupt and impactful. 

Now, as students return and life on campus feels tangible again, online courses still persist, this time with no satisfactory safety net. While it is true that more students are back on campus this spring and that does bring a twinge of normalcy back, classes are still for the most part not in-person. The S-grade was adopted because online learning is difficult and draining. It wasn’t adopted because people weren’t allowed to be in Athens.  

In response, petitions have sprung up online calling for the reinstatement, and Student Senate passed a bill demanding the option be reinstated

Other universities in Ohio have adapted their policies to be less lenient, but still provide some relief for students. Ohio State is providing an “emergency pass” grade for students who receive a D+ or D in a course. Cleveland State University is also offering a pass/fail grading option for this semester. 

In contrast, OU seems to be pretending life is back to normal. Despite promises the many classes would be a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction, this semester feels no different than the past two. The university even admitted before the semester began that “many students will still have a majority of their courses taught remotely.”

So, it’s hard to understand why now was the time to remove the “S” option. The rationale behind it either does not exist or is complete nonsense. 

When asked about the status of the option and the reasoning behind its removal, the university did not provide any comment. 

The future of this option is uncertain, but it does not seem like a lot to ask from OU when other public institutions within the state are taking similar measures. Students at OU deserve a lot more than just this considering the chaos of the last year or so. Unfortunately, this may become yet another situation where the university fails to deliver what’s right. 

Noah Wright is a senior studying strategic communication at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Noah? Tweet him @NoahCampaign.

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