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Columbia Spectator Staff

A Columbia College Student Council resolution that would require all CC first-years to take all non-Core classes pass/D/fail in their first semester has drawn mixed reactions from students since it was passed Sunday.

The proposal, which would also change the cap on the number of credits students can take their first semester from 22 to 18, must be approved by Columbia College Dean James Valentini and the Committee on Instruction before going into effect.

Advocates for the policy change, spearheaded by CCSC Academic Affairs Representative Steven Castellano, CC '13, say it would help students adjust to the college workload and ease the transition from high school.

Many students agreed. "The transition to college would be easier," Josephine Wei, CC '13, said. "If I were applying to Columbia again, this would definitely be attractive."

Sammy Simon, CC '14, said that since students come to college from different academic backgrounds and need time to adapt, the policy would be beneficial.

"It's supposed to mark an easy transition for high school students who aren't as well prepared," Simon said. "I think it's a great incentive."

Other students, however, objected to the restrictions in the proposal, which would not allow students to uncover grades.

Jaclyn Willner, CC '14, said that the policy could hurt students in applications for graduate school.

"What would happen when they apply to grad school or law school, where grades are extremely important?" she said.

Willner, who transferred to Columbia from Brandeis University, said that her first semester grades were especially important for her transfer application.

"I'm a transfer student, and I wouldn't have been able to come here if my old school had a policy like that," she said.

In the proposal, Castellano cited Columbia's peer institutions that have already adopted a pass/D/fail policy or having begun conversations about it. At MIT, first-years are graded on a pass/no record basis. If students receive a grade of C or higher in a course, it is recorded as a pass on their transcripts. If they receive a grade of D or F, there will be no record of their having taken the course at all on the transcripts. Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins both have similar policies in place.

Catherine Perloff, a high school junior who was on campus on a college tour Tuesday, said that the pass/D/fail policy would be detrimental to students who work hard to receive good grades.

"It's difficult for students who work incredibly hard and who would normally get an A," Perloff, who is from Los Angeles, said. "Getting an A is different than getting a B."

"If it's just a pass, then you're grouped with everyone who passes, and you won't get as much recognition or credit for how much you're really working," she said.  |  @TraceyDWang

Pass/D/Fail CCSC