To the Editor:
Professor Timothy Guinnane asserts (“Changes to Credit/D policy fail undergraduate students,” 11/8) that the modifications to the current policy approved by Yale College faculty last Thursday will be detrimental to undergraduate education. As the YCC members who drafted a proposal in support of these changes, which were the recommendations of last year’s Report on Yale College Education, we feel that Professor Guinnane’s assessment of the future Credit/D/Fail system focuses solely on the negative aspects of the policy, while disregarding the significant advantages to students.
The primary intended benefit of the modifications is to expand the selection of classes offered under the Credit/D/Fail option. This will allow students to explore more varied academic interests and to take more classes outside their area of concentration without potentially damaging their academic record. This is not a naive assumption, but one that is founded on the original purpose of the Cr/D/Fail option — to promote the selection of a diverse course load that is consistent with the principles of a liberal arts education.
Professor Guinnane cites a personal concern, implying that the quality of all courses may suffer with up to half of the students taking any class Credit/D/Fail under the new policy. With this argument, however, he projects a recurring problem of the current system onto the new policy. We feel his apprehension is unwarranted because as a greater selection of courses is offered under the Credit/D/Fail option, statistically, a smaller percentage of students will choose to use their limited Credit/D/Fail resource in any given course.
We do acknowledge that seminar-style courses present a unique concern under the new system. We agree with Professor Guinnane that individual departments should retain the authority to restrict the Cr/D/Fail option to students majoring outside the discipline. Once again, the intention of the new policy is to open up higher-level seminar courses to interested non-majors, not to dilute the academic experience of those taking the course for their majors.
We are confident that students at this university are motivated to take courses that interest them and to learn for the sake of learning, not merely to earn a course credit. The new Credit/D/Fail system will advantage students by encouraging them to use the option as it was originally intended — to pursue more diverse academic interests.
Austin Broussard ’06
Molly Lubin ’06
Nov. 8, 2004
The writers are the Morse College YCC representatives.