Pass/Fail grading is a breath of relief for students Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

By Ben Goldberger —

With the recent switch to online classes, University of Louisville students are left stressing over the many uncertainties that surround the end of the semester.

The university recently got rid of one of those uncertainties by allowing students to choose whether or not to make their classes pass/fail instead of letter grades.

This is a great move by the university. Not only does Pass/Fail grading relieve a lot of student anxiety about maintaining high academic achievement through online classes, this gives the students the power to control their grades. 

In an email sent out by University Provost Beth Boehm, she said, “As always, we are doing our best to make sure that you can finish the semester in the strongest possible way and not be overly concerned that the disruption of COVID-19 will poorly impact your record.”

University administrators and professors have been extremely empathetic with students throughout these abnormal times, and this recent policy shift is another example of that. They want to make sure their students are put in the best position to succeed, and offering the Pass/Fail option is a great way to do so.

The best aspect of this policy is that students can pick and choose which of their classes they want to switch to Pass/Fail grading. They have until the last day of classes, April 21, to do so. Since a general “Pass” grade will not affect students’ GPAs, this gets rid of any impact that this pandemic could have on their records. 

This aspect is particularly popular among the students. 

“I think it’s really nice that we have the option to switch over without affecting our GPA,” says freshman Nia Watson-Jones. “Taking online classes is a lot different than being in person, so I really appreciate the choice that the university has given.”

Some people may look at this policy and think that this only enables students to be lazier and not be punished for not doing their best. While this is theoretically true, the Pass/Fail system more-so accounts for the educational setbacks that are inevitable in these uncharted times. 

If anything, it levels the playing field for students who were promised, and paid full tuition prices for, in person classes. The university understands that while they have world class professors and students, nobody was prepared for this sudden shift to online learning. This policy accounts for those unavoidable hiccups that will happen with this learning change. 

The world is going through unprecedented times right now, and it’s scary to think about the effects that this pandemic will have on society, both future and present. U of L administrators want to make this period of uncertainty as controllable as possible, and introducing the choice to switch to Pass/Fail grading is a great way of doing so. 

At the end of her initial email on the subject, Boehm shared a heartwarming story of how she celebrated her son trying his best in school, despite receiving a less than perfect grade. She then passed that same message onto all of the students at U of L, and said, “Success is doing your best, not being perfect.” 

The new policy released by the university allows students to do so without the anxiety and worry of not reaching the level of academic achievement that they maintained through in person classes. 

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L announces summer 2020 classes will only be offered online Friday, Mar 27 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi announced March 27 that all classes for the summer 2020 term will be delivered online.

This announcement comes after U of L’s decision to move spring 2020 classes online for the remainder of the semester in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We have been working closely with all our academic deans to make sure we stay adaptive to change and that we continue to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all of our campus community,” Bendapudi said in the email announcement to students, faculty and staff.

Students who were planning on enrolling in classes that are traditionally held in person will be able to pay lower tuition for those classes. These new rates apply only to classes for the 2020 summer semester and can be found on a document attached to Bendapudi’s email.

Students who are already enrolled in an online degree program will not be affected by these changes. More information on the changes to summer classes can be found on U of L’s summer term website.

Enrollment dates will not be changed by this decision. Priority registration is still March 31 for both summer and fall classes.

The Delphi Center will continue to provide support to instructors as they change their in-person courses to online courses.

Bendapudi ended this announcement with words of encouragement to the campus community. “This continues to be a time of monumental change,” Bendapudi said. “We are grateful to be part of a community that continues to rally together to get the job done.”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L adds pass/fail option for the spring 2020 semester Friday, Mar 20 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm announced in an email to students March 20 that students now have the option to make any of their classes for the spring 2020 semester pass/fail.

A pass/fail system means that no matter the letter grade, a class that a student passes will not affect their grade point average but will be counted toward their degree progression. A failed class will affect their grade point average.

Undergraduate students who choose this option will earn a grade of “pass” for any class they get a D- or better in and a “fail” grade for any class they get an F in. Graduate students will earn a “pass” for any class they get a C- or better in and a “fail” for any class they get a D+ or below in.

Boehm explained the decision to offer a pass/fail class as a way to redefine what success means in a time where things are uncertain due to the spread of COVID-19.

“Success might mean something different this semester than it would in a ‘normal’ semester: it might mean not giving up when you are tempted to; it might mean finishing all of the courses you signed up for without stressing about grades; it might mean practicing social distancing to keep yourself and others safe and healthy; it might mean finding out that you are stronger than you thought,” Boehm said.

This decision came after students raised concerns about the switch to online classes for the remainder of the semester. One student, Chidum Okeke, started an online petition to persuade U of L administration to provide a pass/fail option.

That petition had 3,751 signatures at the time the decision was made. In his petition, Okeke explained why he felt a pass/fail system would be beneficial. “U of L students are driven and passionate, but under these circumstances, the amount of work and engagement can be exhausting and potentially detrimental to the success of our student body,” Okeke said.

“Giving students the option to make their classes pass/fail wouldn’t discourage students from doing well academically, but rather, would allow some cushion for those in tough situations.”

Boehm suggested that students talk to their advisors before deciding to switch to pass/fail or not. The decision can be made on a class by class basis and the deadline to switch a class to pass/fail is April 21, the last day of class.

Boehm attached the university’s official pass/fail policy to the email and said it will also be put on the U of L coronavirus website.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Classes moved online until end of semester; Spring Commencement postponed Wednesday, Mar 18 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville announced March 18 that classes will be operated remotely through April 28 and the Spring 2020 Commencement is postponed.

President Neeli Bendapudi said that U of L is taking the recommendations of health and local and state government leaders to move forward in their emergency response. She said that U of L’s main goal is to keep everyone healthy and informed moving forward.

Professional colleges are currently making decisions to help ensure the timely graduation of their students. They can expect to receive updates from their dean with further instruction.

In addition, all finals will be conducted remotely. Students will receive instructions and updates on how these finals will be served from professors.

Students living in Miller, Threlkeld, Unitas, Community Park, Kurz, Louisville and Billy Minardi halls are being asked to move out by March 29. Bendapudi said this is extremely important to increase social distance for health and safety.

Those living in these residence halls must complete a cancellation form. But U of L is making exceptions for students who must remain on campus. These students will have to fill out a housing exemption form for Spring 2020.

Along with that, students who have no outstanding balances may have a portion of their housing costs applied to Fall 2020. They can put the credit towards housing, tuition, or dining. Graduating students will have a portion of these costs refunded.

While Spring 2020 Commencement is postponed, May 9 is still the day for spring degree conferral. Students who are set to graduate in Spring 2020 are invited to the Winter 2020 Commencement in December.

“We know this is a tremendous disappointment to our graduates and their families,” said Bendapudi. “And we share that disappointment as well. We will invite all Spring graduates to our December 2020 Commencement ceremony to be honored for your achievements.”

Other campus closures include the Health Sciences fitness center and the Student Recreation Center, effective immediately.

Faculty and staff have also been directed to work remotely from home through April 28.

U of L has suspended all international and domestic university-sponsored travel through June 30. Any event hosted by U of L entity or facility will also be postponed or cancelled through April 28.

Bendapudi closed her email with this statement:

“Meanwhile I hope each of you takes care of your own physical and mental health. Despite all the busy-ness, I hope you will take a moment to pause. Slow down. Anchor yourself in what matters most to you. Reach out to someone for help. Whether it is your dean, supervisor or another leader on campus, let us know how we can support you best at this time. Reach out to see if someone else needs help. Let us be patient with one another. Together we will persevere through this tumultuous time and come out the other side a stronger, more unified university community.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Tips for adjusting to online classes Wednesday, Mar 18 2020 

By Matthew Keck — 

Every student at the University of Louisville is facing the task of adjusting to online classes for the foreseeable future. For students who have taken online classes in the past, this is no issue.

As for those who haven’t, Kristen Brown, associate director of online learning at U of L, has provided tips to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Check In Daily

Brown says that students who want to make their online transition a successful one need to check in daily. “Just like in a live classroom, there may be discussions taking place or updates from your teacher, so being present in your virtual classroom is essential for staying engaged,” she says.

And this doesn’t mean checking in once a day. She suggests checking in multiple times each day to make sure students aren’t missing any information for their classes.

“Students need to be sure they are clear on the faculty member’s expectations in terms of communication (frequency and methods), and due dates for assignments,” says Brown.

Manage Your Time

While there is no set “time” for classes anymore, students must keep in mind that there are still due dates or real-time lectures to attend. With that in mind, it is a good idea to set aside time, like you would for normal classes, to stay on top of things.

“Laying out a plan to stay engaged in all of your online courses will be essential,” says Brown. “Since your course schedule will not revolve around regular in-person class sessions, you must be able to set a schedule that allows you to meet course deadlines.”

This new online territory can be tricky, but balancing your time can make it less hectic.

Communicate

Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing what to do or how to do it. So, to make sure that doesn’t happen, Brown says students need to communicate with their respective professors.

“One of the most important things that we can all do to ensure the success of an online course is to communicate well and communicate often,” she says.

“By engaging with the faculty member, other students and the course material, students will be able to make the most of their online courses,” says Brown. “Asking questions, taking notes, and staying organized will help tremendously.”

This is a first time experience for many of professors as well, so communicating with them helps make this a more successful experience for both sides.

Use Resources

Lastly, Brown says students should take advantage of the resources that will help them during these times.

“Students should use the resources available to them on track,” she says. “Advisors will be available remotely, and the university will continue to offer its virtual support through the Writing CenterREACH and the Library.”

Brown also provided a list of technological resources for students:

Again, this way of operating is new for mostly everyone involved. Remain patient, keep these tips in mind, communicate and make the end of the semester a good one.

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Provost Boehm shares update with faculty amid suspended classes Monday, Mar 16 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

University of Louisville faculty and students are returning from spring break to new territory: online classes. Amid this situation, U of L provost Beth Boehm shared an update and her thoughts on the situation.

Beginning March 18 all classes will be administered remotely, April 5 being the earliest date to return to in-person classes. For many professors, conducting online classes will be uncharted territory.

“I understand that many of you are stressed and worried about teaching remotely; honestly, I would be fearful too if I were teaching this semester,” said Boehm. “But we have an obligation to our students and our accrediting bodies to enable our students to complete their courses remotely.”

With faculty and students worried about the efficacy of these online classes, Boehm wants them to know that it will require patience on both sides.

“In a note to students, I asked that they be patient with their instructors, many of whom are teaching online for the first time,” she said. “Here, I am asking you to also be patient with your students, to be understanding of their anxieties, both about online delivery and the coronavirus itself.”

To reduce the stress of both parties, Boehm reiterated that faculty are being trained to properly administer their online courses to students. They have been working with the Delphi Center staff to ensure the online courses are a success.

In addition, Boehm reminded the faculty how important it is for the university to stay open during times like these.

“We are committed to staying open to help our most vulnerable students have food, shelter, and access to libraries and IT (and some other essential services) while they work to finish the semester,” she said. “Your leadership in modeling healthy social distancing practices, resilience in the face of stress and unfamiliar work conditions, and kindness and compassion according to our Cardinal Principles will help our students stay calm and healthy and will enable them to complete their semester successfully.”

She also urged faculty to provide students without internet access the information to receive a free 60-day period from Spectrum. “To enroll, students should call 1-844-488-8395,” said Boehm. “While we will be sharing this info with students, if you have students who indicate they are without internet access, please give them this information.”

In closing, Boehm said how this will be a stressful and difficult time for everyone. But with that in mind, administration, faculty and students all have to work together to make this transition seamless she said.

“I know we are a resilient institution, and I’m urging us all to call upon our best selves in the days ahead,” said Boehm. “We have a lot of work to do.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Contrasting Opinions: U of L’s reaction to COVID-19 Monday, Mar 16 2020 

By Zachary Baker and Ben Goldberger —

There are few things that will make the entire country stop their busy lives, but the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has accomplished just that. Everything from national sport leagues to small businesses have been shut down in efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Universities across the country have closed down their campuses, some telling students to pack up all their belongings and leave campus for good. The University of Louisville announced on March 11 that Spring Break would be extended to March 17, and classes would be offered online from March 18 to April 5 at the earliest.

Zachary Baker and Ben Goldberger voice their opinions on U of L switching to online classes in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Zachary Baker

Many people have applauded the university’s actions, claiming the threat of the virus is so significant that it would be dangerous not to cancel classes. However, others have expressed concerns about the university’s response. Was moving to distance ed classes the appropriate response to the coronavirus threat?

A proportion of students are worried about the effects that will come from the mandatory change to online classes during this semester, and the anxiety is rational.

To begin, students are concerned that professors are not technologically knowledgeable enough to teach online classes. Across U of L’s campus, students make jokes about times in class when some professors could not open up YouTube videos correctly or even post an assignment on Blackboard without delay. It is almost guaranteed that every student at U of L has had at least one professor who was almost impossible to email.

The anxiety comes directly from personal experience for most students, and while the university is promising training for all professors on online classes, it is clear from previous experiences they are woefully unprepared.

Additionally, this decision will directly affect learning for many students as on-campus classes are a necessity for some. There are several students at U of L who require special accommodations for classes and online classes do not tend to those needs. This does those students a great disservice, especially when considering the age bracket for college students is the least likely to be affected by the coronavirus.

These precautions are being made for a group of people who are the most unlikely to be hurt by this outbreak. This is not saying we should not take these precautions, but that we are taking an unnecessarily excessive jump that will hurt the academic situation of many students.

Students have expressed concerns about their academic standing.

“I’m worried about how online courses will proceed and how grading and credit might be affected,” said sophomore Derrell Myles. These concerns continue to spread throughout the student body, and many are anxious about how the semester will proceed.

Should the university be noticed for taking measures to protect the student body? Absolutely. Was it the most thought out response considering the students’ needs and the abilities of the faculty? After the concerns brought up, this is still uncertain, but some hope the university is prepared for what will be developing over the next couple of weeks.

Ben Goldberger

Some students are angry about the recent closures of college campuses and switches to online courses, labeling it an overreaction to the recent COVID-19 outbreak. The reactions by these universities are actually very appropriate decisions to make in response to the coronavirus.

Though switching to online courses and, in some cases, sending students home for the rest of the semester may seem excessive, it is what has to happen to limit the spread of the virus.

After all, anything that is done proactively is seen as excessive, and anything done retrospectively is too late.

There have been multiple studies released that show the importance of social distancing and how it limits the spreading of the coronavirus.

“A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America of the 1918 influenza pandemic provided powerful evidence that cities that implemented interventions early — such as closing churches, schools, theaters and dance halls and forbidding crowding on street cars and banning public gatherings — experienced much lower peaks in the death rates than ones that did not,” said the Washington Post.

While practicing social distancing will not stop the spread of COVID-19 all together, it will decrease it exponentially. This virus will not go away if everyone continues to live their lives as normal. Precautions have to be taken to stop the virus, and one of these precautions is limiting contact with individuals as much as possible.

Another large concern with the switch to online courses is that the professors will not be able to properly facilitate their class online.

While some professors struggle with technology, most have experience with either teaching online or using other forms of technology to facilitate their classes. Every class at the university uses some sort of technological classroom, whether that be Blackboard, TopHat or another software. Even if a professor isn’t skilled at using the software, they still have received training on how to use them and are knowledgeable enough to make it work.

On top of this, the university regularly offers online classes year-round, so they are well prepared to provide online education for all of their students. U of L would not have made this switch if they did not feel confident that their professors will be able to provide a level of education online that is consistent with in-person classes.

This situation is definitely less than ideal and in-person classes would be more beneficial. But with the situation the world is in right now, the decision to switch to remote courses is by far the best decision that the university could make.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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