‘Pass-fail’ option no-go at Dillard this semester

NEW ORLEANS (November 19, 2021) – The pass-fail option will not be available at Dillard University this fall, officials said, although some students still want it.

Dr. Yolanda Page, vice president for Academic Affairs, said that while this semester was difficult with the double whammy of the pandemic and Hurricane Ida, the school decided against offering the option as was done previously.

She said this is due in part to the strong showing students had in previous pandemic semesters and because graduate and professional schools no longer are receptive to the option.

Page said while the pass-fail grading option was a national trend during spring 2020, national reports since indicate students got pushback from admissions committees for graduate school, “so you should consider that because Hurricane Ida was a local event, there will be less or no acceptance of the grading option.”

Even so, Page added, “I do think that students will do well because of their resilience and academic talent.”

She said DU students had their highest semester grade-point averages of the past five academic years during the pandemic semesters of spring 2020 and fall 2020.

“Sometimes, I don't think our students appreciate how academically talented they are,” she said.

She pointed to 16 years when Hurricane Katrina devastated the area on a much larger scale: “These students didn’t have a pass-fail option, and they did just fine despite living and learning in a hotel.”

Page referred struggling students to academic and non-academic support services that the university offers.

Some students still want the option.

Joi Brumfield,  a sophomore psychology major from New Orleans, who was among a group discussing the difficulties of college post-Hurricane Ida, said, “Why wouldn’t we have the pass or fail option being that we missed almost three weeks of school? We deserve to get credit for classes taken this semester without having a low grade that would affect our GPA.” 

When classes resumed after the hurricane, some students were displaced and/or left looking for resources such as wifi to complete their assignments.

Cortheal Clark, chair of the School of Humanities, agreed with Page’s assessment.

“We have great students here at DU, we are preparing everyone for professional careers and I'm very confident that our students can successfully make the grades they deserve when the work is put in.”