Faculty May Tighten Pass/Fail Rules

Discussion Follows Criticism at Monday Meeting

The Faculty may consider tightening the College's rule on taking courses pass fail, after Monday's Faculty debate on honors requirements became sidetracked on the issue, administrators indicated this week.

The pass fail rules emerged as a source of dissatisfaction in the midst of Monday's full Faculty meeting, at which professors considered a pair of alternate revisions of the undergraduate honors requirements.

In the course of the debate, several professors sharply criticized the current pass fail rules, which require students to receive grades of "C-minus" or better in 21 half-courses.

Tabled Debate

The two proposed honors revisions differed in the number of graded courses they required students to take. At the end of the meeting, the debate was tabled for consideration at the Faculty's December 14 session.


But Sidney Verba '53, associate dean for undergraduate education, who sponsored one of the revisions on behalf of the Faculty Council, said yesterday he planned to withdraw his proposal in order to let the Faculty settle the pass fail issue first.

If Verba withdraws his proposal, the counterproposal will drop from the Faculty's docket as well, since it was put forth as an amendment to Verba's legislation.

The student-faculty Committee on Undergraduate Education, which met for the first time Wednesday, will examine the pass/fail issue as its first project for the year, said Verba, who chairs the committee. In addition, the Faculty Council, an influential advisory group of professors, will consider the matter this term, Verba said.

The dean would not predict whether the Faculty would necessarily tighten the pass/fail rules, if it did move to change them. But the overwhelming sentiment about the rules expressed at Monday's Faculty meeting was intense disapproval.

"Pass/fail courses are an idea whose time has come and gone." Richard C. Marius, director of expository writing, told the assembled professors.

Marius and other Faculty members argued that students are less committed to courser they take pass fail, and learn less in them.

Alter Wednesday's Faculty Council meeting, at which members apparently supported postponing the honors debate to examine the pass fail question. Secretary to the Faculty John R. Marquand said. "The Faculty meeting discussion and the comments of Faculty members following it suggested that many members of the Faculty were not happy with the liberality of the present rules."

Marquand said the honors legislation will not come before the Faculty until at least the meeting after the pass fail option is settled.

"If good progress can be made on the pass fail question, then it's possible that both it and the honors legislation could be settled before the end of the academic year," he said.