In the wake of COVID-19 which led CUNY Queens College to close its campus, students began to ask for a change within the grading policy. The main argument being that many students will face food and housing insecurity as a result of campus closure. As well as the fact that many students don’t have unlimited access to technological resources when off campus, which suddenly were deemed necessary to complete coursework. This, of course, would prove to have a huge impact on the grades that students would receive this spring semester.
Eventually, The CUNY Board of Trustees approved a policy that allows students to enter in a grade of CR (credit), for passing and above grades, or No Credit, for failing grades. Both designations will substitute themselves for a letter grade on your transcript, and will not have any impact on your GPA. However, as with any policy, there are caveats. The CUNY website advises that students who are graduating shouldn’t choose the Credit(CR)/No Credit option, because if the letter grade helps to raise the student’s GPA to a 2.0 or 3.0, this option will prevent them from graduating. Also this isn’t an actual letter grade. So, even if other institutions are made aware of the effects of COVID-19, they won’t accept anything that isn’t a letter grade, thus putting the student in jeopardy of not being accepted into their school of choice because they choose the option to save their GPA.
Another issue is that this policy has the potential to negatively impact a student’s financial aid. Kyaw Htet, an Interacting Design and Psychology major, also voiced concern that “It may affect receiving a private scholarship as some of them may not accept a grade of CR.” He also stated that he hasn’t used the policy as of yet. There is a degree of consolation that, according to the website HESC (Higher Education Services Corporation), which is the state financial aid agency, has determined that students certified by the college as impacted by COVID-19 and receiving state financial aid won’t suffer a negative impact on current or future awards. An anonymous QC student majoring in Computer Science mentioned that “It doesn’t affect financial aid but it’ll affect the outlook of the transcript.” This is true and as mentioned could eventually cause problems on the path to graduation. Furthermore, this means that while some students can use the policy, others are not, which defeats its purpose as put in place to help everyone affected by COVID-19. The HESC also mentioned the possibility that “… people can abuse it and CR all of their classes.” Or the possibility that there will be people that won’t pass a single class this semester. However, there is a rule that does help to keep the use of this policy in check. According to the CUNY website, “You may only opt for NC in course(s) with an earned F grade. In all other courses you have passed, you may only opt for a CR grade”.
Overall, the policy as a whole is a decent one made with good intentions, however, as with any policy, some flaws must be addressed, especially because we are bracing for a second wave of COVID-19.