To the Editor:
There are two recommendations in the Committee on Yale College Education report that I lament.
One, the reduction in language proficiency, seems to me the sort of thing that a minority of undergraduates might clamor for; but most students and instructors — and especally, in my experience, former students — have come to see the interdependence of globalization and language proficiency and might well wonder whether the report is not headed in just the wrong direction on this issue.
But the other matter is one on which I am truly surprised not to see more of a student outcry: the handsome Credit/D/Fail option makes most sense in fulfilling distribution requirements. I have had many advisees who know their limits in fields far from their major but who have nonetheless undertaken serious, difficult courses in which they know they could not excel. These are students who are not looking for easy ways out of such requirements; they believe in the spirit of the distribution requirements and wish to get a taste of the real thing.
Eliminating the Credit/D/Fail option does a disservice to such students and paves the way for more poor choices — and poor courses in place of intellectually rigorous ones.
March 9, 2003
The writer is a professor of English.