Students at Yale are demanding a "universal pass" this semester due to coronavirus, after the college switched to virtual classes. This means no grades, deadlines or benchmarks for the Ivy League students, according to Yale grad Esteban Elizondo in a New York Post Op-Ed.
As representatives of one of America’s most important institutions, I assumed Yale students would rise to the occasion and lead their communities during a crisis. Instead, they see an international health disaster as an opportunity to nullify the one meritocratic standard the college has left: grades.
Their call for a Universal Pass betrays a mindset spreading among too many Yale students: “I should be shielded from every crisis.”
Any trouble in the world is apparently too great an emotional load for my peers to bear. Parkland shooting? Time to walk out of class. Climate change? Let’s have a school-wide “strike.” Coronavirus? Just cancel grades. That’s the only solution. -New York Post
According to Elizondo, Yale - "led by mollycoddler-in-chief Peter Salovey" - is feeding a defeatist mentality which trains students to expect that the university will drop academic standards at the drop of a hat. After President Trump was elected, for example, professors bent the knee when students demanded midterms be canceled due to their mental health.
Instead of a "universal pass," Yale administration has offered students the option of a "Pass/Fail" grading system - but the students, including the Yale College Council Senate, are still demanding that every student be given a the no-questions-asked, no-effort-required universal pass where everyone gets a "P."
Harvard, meanwhile, has adopted an Emergency Satisfactory/Emergency Unsatisfactory (SEM/UEM) grading system for spring semester.
Universal Pass, unsurprisingly, has been framed as a fight for low-income students. Infantilizing the disadvantaged is a typical activist behavior at Yale. Whether protestors are “striking” because of climate change’s effect on indigenous communities or pushing for the nullification of grades because a slipping economy will harm low-income students, the demands of elite Yalies always conveniently line up with those of the underprivileged.
But, in reality, this latest crusade is just an excuse to do less work and abolish academic standards altogether. In my four years at Yale, I was consistently shocked by the creative excuses used by my peers to skip classes and exams. It’s quite brilliant, really — get out of class and virtue signal by arguing it’s a way to “advocate” for low-income students. I wish I had that type of ingenuity in second grade. You can only fake a stomachache so many times. -New York Post
Elizondo argues that the Universal Pass actually hurts disadvantaged students by "ending their ability to distinguish themselves based on merit," while helping rich kids with connections pursue postgraduate opportunities, as prestigious employers and top-tier grad schools are more likely to overlook a 'passing' grade during a difficult time.
The author concludes by suggesting that the real motives for easing standards have nothing to do with coronavirus at all.
"What students really want is to jettison grading permanently so they don’t have to work so hard. It’s nothing but laziness and virtue signaling disguised as activism."