To the Editor:
Ned Andrews ’03 points out what I agree to be very important shortcomings in the Credit/D/Fail system, though his proposed solution is needlessly complex and unrealistic (“Proposing a new alternative for Credit/D/Fail,” 4/17).
Yale’s move from Credit/Fail to Credit/D/Fail was fundamentally wrong from the outset. Do we really care if a student who is looking for intellectual exploration ends up performing at the level of a “C-” versus a “D”?
The current system’s flaw is that it centers around that arbitrary distinction, aiming to prevent an extreme lack of effort but only by replacing it with lack of effort on a lesser degree. The problem is, there is no provision for rewarding the presence of any efforts.
While Andrews has the right idea about the problems, his suggestion of a two-tiered system would create a bureaucratic mess that would simply invite manipulation and problems — in much the same way that acceleration credits have wreaked havoc on room draws and enrollment in capped seminars.
A simpler solution is to stop worrying about who is getting a “D” and instead reward those who get “A’s”. Yale should implement an A/Credit/Fail system, which would allow students to venture into unexplored academic territory with the comfort of a safety net, while still providing the possibility for acknowledgement if they perform well. Such an option, combined with the opportunity to use it on any course that one meets prerequisites for — not just dumbed-down courses which invite disinterest from the start — will truly allow the academic exploration that the system intends.
Sam Moghtaderi ’97
April 17, 2002