On Tuesday, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ hosted an Ask Me Anything event on Reddit, where several students had the opportunity to ask her questions.
A popular topic in the Reddit thread was the implementation of a pass/no pass, or P/NP, option for major requirements in the fall 2020 semester. Students also asked about the electrical engineering and computer sciences, or EECS, department’s budget cuts for spring 2021 and potential financial support during the pandemic.
According to Christ, the P/NP policy is not something she can “regulate by fiat.” She clarified that various aspects of P/NP policy decisions lie with the UC system’s Academic Senate, the UC Berkeley Academic Senate and faculty of schools and colleges on campus.
“The University of California has a long-standing tradition of shared governance that many would argue has contributed to its extraordinary success,” Christ wrote in response to one of the posts about P/NP. “As such, the authority to make changes to P/NP requirements are delegated throughout the university and the campus.”
The systemwide Academic Senate, according to Christ, has authority on the number of units a student can take with P/NP. Other aspects, such as allowing P/NP for major requirements and extending the deadline to switch grading options, are decided by the campus’s individual schools and colleges.
Christ also noted that students can currently take up to one-third of their graduation requirements with the P/NP option, and she advised students to talk with college and department advisors, who have “considerable latitude” to give exemptions on P/NP policies.
One student, however, expressed frustration at this in a post on the thread.
“They say we can talk to our counselors and explain our circumstances, but frankly I am sick and tired of having to essentially use my fresh trauma to beg for leniency,” the Reddit user wrote.
Some students also brought up their concerns about the EECS department’s budget cuts for spring, which led to reduced seats in upper division classes. Christ replied to some posts that these budgets were restored and the planned reduced enrollment was reversed.
Another student asked about whether or not the campus has plans to support students financially due to the pandemic and said loans are not feasible for many.
Christ replied that emergency funding and cost adjustments through the financial aid office can help struggling students. She also recommended that students contact the financial aid office if their family’s financial situation changes.
“Because each individual’s situation is unique, we encourage students who are facing significant challenges to talk to their advisor to learn more about resources and options available to them,” Christ said.