Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
April 21, 2024
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COURTESY OF ANNA L. RHEETENTIVE

To incentivize our death-driven students to quarantine, Hopkins needs grade deflation like never before. 

APRIL FOOL’S: This article was published as part of The News-Letter’s annual April Fool’s edition, an attempt at adding some humor to a newspaper that is normally very serious about its reporting.

This past week, all the buzz around the Hopkins community has surrounded how the University would handle grading this semester as a result of the coronavirus. As petitions advocating for A/A-, optional Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory and every grading system in between circled in group chats everywhere, many questions arose about the University’s institutional responsibility. 

But no one else other than me seems to be asking the most important questions. 

As a leading public health institution, it is our responsibility to lead by example. I can only assume that’s why administrators waited so long to make the first announcement that classes would be moved online when all of us knew people at other peer institutions that were already home.

As ever, University President Ron J. Daniels started a game of Telephone to let everyone know that everyone will either pass or fail this semester  — I mean, see an S or a U for all of their classes. Now students are left with no choice but to go outside. To see people. To break the rules of social distancing. What else would they do with all this free time now that classes do not matter at all?

In our greatest hour of need, Hopkins has failed American society. Now, more than ever, Hopkins must take a stand. Hopkins must give us exam after exam, essay after essay, until we are so weighed down with assignments that we are forced to stay in one spot until the semester is over.  

If Ron and the Hopkins administration truly cared about the safety of its students, then they would not be instituting covered grades for the rest of the semester. Instead, they would be giving students and faculty more work than they would have if we were on campus: assigning more midterms and adding extra mandatory classes. They would raise the credit limit to 20 and add a range of half-semester classes. 

This is the only way to ensure that members of the Hopkins community stay inside, bogged down by hours upon hours of work. This is the only way we will ensure they do not contract and spread the coronavirus.

Under the new universal covered grades system, the administration is giving students a free pass to go traipsing through the streets, ignoring their schoolwork and frolicking to friends’ houses and across state and country lines.

Without exams to seriously study for or A’s to achieve, it is all a Hopkins student can do not to risk contracting the life-threatening illness voluntarily just to feel some sort of challenge or adversity. How else are Hopkins students and faculties supposed to fill the void where they once had hours of debilitating academic work?

In its efforts to encourage students and faculty to self-isolate, Hopkins could learn a few things from the “flattening the curve” strategies that public health officials are taking when approaching this crisis. 

In the spirit of moving curves, I propose that Hopkins “moves the curve to the left” as an institutional policy. This means that every class would adopt a bell curve grading system and the average grade in every class would be 10 points lower than they would during a normal Hopkins semester. Students would be encouraged to work extra hard to beat the newly left-shifted curve. 

Meanwhile, professors would have to spend key hours inside retooling their syllabi to fit this new policy. If the policy is to be pass/fail, then they must at least make it impossible for us to pass. What would have been the grade for an A+ should now be considered a pass. Anything below should be considered a fail. Hopkins must raise the stakes for the safety of its students.

The Hopkins student body seems to think that the administration has risen to the occasion of this global pandemic that we are all experiencing by taking into account the opinions of students. After all, a whole 16 percent of students wanted this policy. The vast majority asked, nay pleaded, nay BEGGED for a policy of A or F.  However, Ron has chosen a truly selfish and short-sighted point of view by choosing to make this semester pass/fail. He now stands at a crossroads. Hopefully he won’t get hit by a Blue Jay Shuttle and have his tuition paid for, but instead will choose to right these wrongs. 


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