Suffolk County Community College decided on April 29 to reject a pass/fail system that could have replaced letter grades, with officials saying such a move would negatively affect students’ transferring to four-year schools.
The decision followed an online petition set up by SCCC students asking for clarity on the college’s position of transitioning to the new grading system, while also pushing for it to be put in place, after SUNY system sent out guidance to SCCC on how to adopt the new grading system if they chose to do so.
Executive Dean Wesley Lundburg and the administration believe the decision is most beneficial for all students.
Due to the shift of in-person learning to online, many colleges, such as Farmingdale State College and Binghamton University, initiated an optional pass/fail grading system. The pass/fail system gives the student either a pass or fail grade in place of a letter grade.
“Once we became more educated on the topic, we began advocating for it with all three campuses SGA’s and our student Trustee,” said Ammerman campus Student Government Association President Erin Winn.
Lundburg gave multiple reasons why this system does less for students than it would benefit them. The main reason mentioned was the difficulty of transferring credits if the school were to switch over to a pass/fail system.
“Many of the institutions going to P/F are 4-year universities whose students are unlikely to transfer to other colleges,” said Lundburg.
Being a two-year community college, most students apply here to attain an associate’s degree and then transfer to a four-year university. The pass/fail system states that any grade above a D would constitute a pass, yet most four-year universities do not accept grades below a C.
Daniel Linker, president of the Ammerman Faculty Senate, added, “You could not transfer classes in your major, and many other classes, like writing classes, would not transfer at all if pass/fail.”
Along with the uncertainty of transferral, “Financial aid, health insurance, GI bill, student visas and other things could all be affected,” Linker said.
SCCC administration has advised professors to be more lenient during these times, as students are dealing with the transition of online school, as well as out-of-school issues.
More support is offered during this time as many are adjusting to online learning.
“Tutoring and other online support for specific classes have been increased to support students, as have student services such as academic counseling,” Lundburg said.
Linker emphasized that he believed this was the best decision for SCCC students and their futures.
“Nothing like this has ever happened and there are so many moving parts and complications… It’s morally hard to enact a policy that you know will hurt the students, even if it looks good to them at the time.”