Dear Students, 

Last week you received a message from President Beilock and us about the College’s move to a mandatory Pass/Fail grading system for the semester. Since then we have received questions and thoughtful messages from many of you. We would like to take this opportunity to address a few of the most commonly asked questions. 

  1. The Spring 2020 Pass/Fail policy is not an extension of our usual P/D/F policy. There will only be two grades granted this semester, Pass and Fail. There will be no underlying letter grades, and therefore no uncovering of grades. This decision was not made lightly and was made with the primary consideration for equity in our academic community. These are unprecedented circumstances and there is great uncertainty about the obstacles to study and academic work that many of you will face while away from campus. Given those boundaries and the unpredictable nature of these circumstances, the most equitable way to grade this semester is the Pass/Fail system. 
  2. Students who had previously elected Pass/D/Fail for a class this semester will have that election removed, so that it does not count against their total possible P/D/F elections.
  3. Transcripts from spring 2020 will have clear notation that clarifies that all courses in the term were graded exclusively on a pass/fail basis. Collectively, Barnard will work alongside Columbia to ensure that this policy does not disadvantage any student applying to graduate school, professional school, or competitive work opportunities. We will be your advocates to all outside institutions. 
  4. Your faculty will continue to assess you and provide critical feedback on your work. They will keep notes about your work, performance, and participation to help you and to be able to comment critically when it comes time for them to write letters of recommendation on your behalf.
  5. A passing grade will allow a course to satisfy both major and minor requirements, as well as GERs. This is an exception to usual college policy. 
  6. Spring 2020 passing grades will be excluded from GPA calculations (major and cumulative), as well as from Latin Honors calculations. A failing grade will impact these calculations, however.
  7. There will be no Dean’s List for this semester.

In order to facilitate equitable access to course material, faculty have been advised to record all their lectures in Zoom. These lectures will be online and available for those of you who, for reasons of time or place, cannot join your classes at the scheduled meeting time. We remind you that the Barnard Honor Code includes relevant language for the proper use of electronic class material:

We consider academic integrity to include the proper use and care for all print, electronic, or other academic resources.”

To be clear, this means that recorded class content — from lectures, labs, seminars, office hours and discussion groups — is the intellectual property of your professor and your fellow students, and should not be distributed or shared outside of class. 

These are certainly extraordinary times, and we want you to know that we understand the stress and pressure that the rapid change from learning on campus to learning remotely imposes on you. We are here to help you and together, as a community of students and faculty, we will each do our part to make the semester as intellectually challenging and fulfilling as possible. We know that this is not the semester you expected to have, but learning does not stop, and our community will not cease. We are here to enable your academic success this semester, along with your faculty and your Deans. We will be your advocates and your support, as always. 

Our very best wishes,

Provost Bell and Dean Grinage