Amid upcoming virtual 2021 summer sessions, the UC Berkeley College of Letters and Science will extend its current pass/no pass, or P/NP, policies.
The decision — discussed by the Letters and Science Executive Committee at its April 7 meeting — is intended to reduce student stress while encouraging learning during remote instruction, according to Khia Brunelle, Letters and Science coordinator of educational policy.
Jenna Mattinson, campus senior and Letters and Science student, had already planned on taking summer courses but noted that this decision made her feel excited and less stressed.
“I think it is awesome that pass/no pass is being extended through summer,” Mattinson said in an email. “The pandemic isn’t over yet and while life is beginning to go back to normal it is really good to have the pass/no pass option because many students may still have these external issues in place.”
Lauren Dela Rosa, another Letters and Science student who intends on taking summer classes, said she is unsure if she will take her classes as P/NP. Knowing she has the option, however, is a big stress relief, as staying focused and motivated during online school has been difficult.
Bob Jacobsen, dean of undergraduate studies for Letters and Science, expects many students to take classes this summer in an effort to get back on track and make up for classes they may have dropped during the pandemic.
“There are still students that are having a hard time, and we would rather they make progress than obsess about their grades,” Jacobsen said.
Extending P/NP was a “tough call,” he said, as campus must eventually return to normal, and some students may take advantage of the P/NP option to raise their GPA.
Unlike Dela Rosa and Mattinson, campus sophomore Britney Weng does not plan on taking summer classes. Although Weng noted that this year’s decision is inconsistent with last summer when classes were not offered as P/NP, she said it will likely encourage more students to register for summer classes, especially to fulfill major requirements.
“I’m sure that the P/NP option is super reassuring and also encouraging for a lot of students,” Weng said in an email. “Everyone faces different circumstances and has different things to consider.”
The ASUC Office of the Academic Affairs Vice President, or AAVP, is “absolutely” in favor of the decision as many students face similar challenges to this school year, according to James Weichert, chief of staff for the AAVP.
Although the AAVP office did not work with Letters and Science for this summer’s P/NP extension, it advocated for greater academic accommodations in previous semesters.
“It’s a real testament to how much we’ve moved the needle and the work that we have put in already that this decision came about without us having to really prod as hard as we did in the fall,” Weichert said.
In the next few weeks, the AAVP office will be in conversation with other campus colleges, encouraging them to also adopt P/NP for the summer.