Explaining Cleveland State’s pass/fail option

By: Jenna Thomas

After pressure from the student body and a strong advocacy push from the Student Government Association (SGA), Cleveland State University has approved a pass/fail option for students during the fall semester. Undergraduate and graduate students, with the exception of the law school, will be able to choose whether to accept the letter grades provided for them or to opt into a pass/fail designation on their transcripts.

In September, SGA released a statement in favor of renewing this option that had been offered to students the previous two semesters. In the statement, they argued that because of the collateral consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued stress on students, the university should feel compelled to meet the unprecedented learning environment with flexibilities. 

“As our community continues to grapple with the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital that the university does everything in its power to mitigate those challenges and the pressures they place on students and their educational success,” SGA stated in its initial argument for reinstating pass/fail. 

SGA also created a petition, which collected 796 signatures. The cumulative pressure and clear interest from students convinced the Faculty Senate to vote yes on the issue.

Any grade of C or better will qualify as a “pass.” This is a change from the past spring and summer semesters, where a D was a passing grade. Ultimately, this change does more for students who are interested in preserving a high GPA. 

Like previous semesters, students will be able to see their letter grade before choosing which option to take. You can also opt-in to the pass/fail option with only certain classes—it is not an all or nothing policy. At the end of the semester, students will use CampusNet to make their choice.