Baruch implements limited Credit/No Credit policy for fall 2020, days after saying it wouldn’t

Anacaona+Rodriguez+%7C+The+Ticker

Anacaona Rodriguez | The Ticker

Iraj Zia

Baruch College announced on Dec. 11 that it will be implementing a limited Credit/No Credit policy for the fall 2020 semester. 

Baruch President S. David Wu explained that Baruch chose this option in response to the public outcry of students, who wanted to have the CR/NC policy as an option during distance learning.

This comes as an update to the earlier decision made by the Baruch administration to not reinstate the CR/NC policy for the semester. Days after Baruch’s decision, however, CUNY leadership released new plans for the fall 2020 semester. 

“On Dec. 7, the CUNY leadership provided the flexibility for each college to choose—for this semester only—one of three options,” Wu said in an email blast sent out to the student body. 

The options allowed colleges to either reinstate the CR/NC policy for all courses, to allow the policy for all courses except ones the college decides to exclude or to not allow the policy for any course and expand on the university’s Pass/No Credit policy instead.

The Baruch administration has chosen the second option: allow the policy for all courses except select ones that the college chooses to exclude.

The Weissman School of Arts and Sciences’ exclusions included all undergraduate courses at or above the 3000 level of mathematics, all graduate mathematics courses and all graduate mental health counseling courses.

At the Zicklin School of Business, all required Undergraduate business courses including pre-business courses, business core courses, and the required courses in the BBA majors will be exlcuded. Also, all executive and graduate courses are excluded. The Marxe School of Public and International Affairs is the only school without any exceptions.

A complete list of excluded courses is available on the Baruch CR/NC resource page.

Students will be allowed to select the CR/NC option for eligible courses in January, after the fall grades have been submitted. The deadline has not been announced yet. The college also decided to extend the course withdrawal with a “W” grade deadline to Tuesday, Dec. 15.

The road to CR/NC at Baruch

Baruch announced its decision to not implement the CR/NC policy for the fall 2020 semester on Dec. 1. This decision came as a disappointment to many students who hoped the CR/NC policy would help alleviate stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Baruch had informed students of their decision to not implement the policy via an email blast sent out to the student body.

 “We have come to the conclusion that implementing a Credit/No Credit policy at Baruch again this semester is not possible,” Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs James McCarthy said in the email. 

The policy was previously enacted during the spring 2020 semester, after New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo had announced a shutdown of all SUNY and CUNY campuses on March 11. 

McCarthy explained that the decision to implement CR/NC in spring 2020 was due to the unexpected nature of the shutdown.

“This decision was in response to the sudden and drastic onset of the COVID-19 epidemic. However, the University’s decision was for Spring Semester 2020 only, and did not extend into the Fall 2020 semester,” McCarthy said. 

He also said that if Baruch were to explore the possibility of a CR/NC policy for a longer period of time, the college would have to start from the beginning.

“We estimate that this can be completed prior to the end of the upcoming Spring 2021, but not before,” he said.  

This decision came as a disappointment to many, as students had previously expressed their desire for the CR/NC policy through emails and petitions to the Baruch administration. 

In an interview with The Ticker, Baruch’s Undergraduate Student Government Vice President of Legislative Affair Richard Reyes shared his views on the update.

“I see no reason why they would not implement the policy, they know the student sentiments, they know the circumstances and how students are dealing, and this would not be an overwhelming task for them since CUNY would authorize the system on CUNYFirst for the CR/NC programming,” he said.

Reyes also explained previous efforts made by USG to get Baruch to implement the policy this semester.

“USG has conducted immense research on whether students wanted this policy. It was an overwhelming yes. In addition, we conducted a testimony form to gather testimonies about the current circumstances students were facing,” Reyes said. “This was all sent to Baruch administration.”

He, like many students, was also upset that Baruch waited until December to announce their decision.

“They knew that students wanted the implementation of the policy since the start of the Fall semester. Many other colleges took the initiative of restructuring and establishing local CR/NC policies. Baruch failed to take the initiative,” he said.

Frustrated at the lack of response to the attempts made by USG, Reyes added that the university’s response felt like “a slap in the face.”

In a statement to The Ticker, Yehuda Wexler, a University Student Senate alternate delegate, expressed his dismay over Baruch’s announcement.

“Baruch College has consistently ranked among the top schools for social mobility, yet is failing all of our hard working and low-income students who have been significantly harder-hit by the pandemic and its effects,” he said.

Wexler also mentioned Baruch’s overall performance during the pandemic.

“Baruch’s administration has failed to communicate with the student body throughout the pandemic, even while other colleges have increased their communication,” he said. “I believe I can speak for many of the student body when I say that I feel betrayed, not only by the answer we have been given, but even more so by the fact that it took Mr. McCarthy until two weeks before the end of the semester to tell us that he doesn’t have the time to create a CR/NC policy.”

Reyes also expressed to The Ticker his opinion on the importance of the CR/NC policy. 

“There needed to be an equitable solution to safeguard the access of higher education at an institution such as CUNY which has branded itself as the pinnacle of social mobility and access,” he said. “The reason it was important for Baruch to implement the CR/NC policy was because it was an equitable solution.”

Baruch students have also expressed their concerns over the decision.

“I feel that it was a decision made in great inconsideration to the students,” Jafrin Uddin, a marketing major, told The Ticker in a survey that was shared on social media. “The pandemic is affecting all students negatively and Baruch professors aren’t taking initiative to make this semester fair for us.”

Mateja Tokic, an economics major at Baruch, also expressed feelings of hurt and abandonment at the lack of available resources and help provided by the college.

 “What exactly is school doing to compensate students for the damage that was done to us?” she said. “We are expected to understand school for not being able to provide us with everything, but school doesn’t understand us when we aren’t able to perform our usual 100%? This feels like a toxic, one sided relationship.”

However, on Dec. 7, USG reported that CUNY Central updated its course of action to extend the spring 2020 CR/NC policy to the fall 2020 term, giving hope to some students.

According to Reyes, CUNY’s decision was announced in an email sent out to college presidents and provosts by the Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost José Luis Cruz.

The email, which The Ticker received screenshots of from Reyes, stated that colleges will have the option to choose from three possible ways to implement the policy as they deem fit.

They can either allow the CR/NC policy for all fall courses, allow the policy for all courses except ones the college chooses, or they can choose to not allow the policy for any course.

At the time, The Ticker had not been able to verify the validity of the email, but after publication of The Ticker’s original article on the CR/NC policy on Dec. 10, CUNY Central made this announcement publicly. 

USG had asked students to email the administration and urge them to implement the policy as it was originally in the spring 2020 semester.

“The administration ignored countless follow ups from USG and acknowledged the pain and suffering of students in a three-sentence paragraph that disregarded such data and testimonies,” Reyes said.