YAO | Bring Back Opt-In S/U

Last semester, Cornell implemented an opt-in S/U grading policy, where students had until the end of the semester to switch any class to S/U — even if the course did not previously offer it as a grading option. Furthermore, courses where students received a satisfactory grade could be used to satisfy major or minor requirements. In doing so, the University recognized the need for flexibility and solicitude during a year where we saw the world as we knew it fall apart. Some of that empathy might come in handy this semester as well. This fall, Cornell chose to revert to standard grading practices, implying that students should treat the semester the same manner they treated every other year.

YAO | Zoom and Gloom

Every time I leave a Zoom meeting, I’m left with an acute sense of emptiness. There’s no satisfaction or relief derived from getting through a lecture without falling asleep. No lingering sense of happiness that usually comes from catching up with a friend. With a single click, I’m thrust back into the stark silence of my room — a silence that only reminds me how much of an illusion these on-screen interactions really are. Think about it: At the most basic level, we’re conversing with an amalgam of pixels that either form people’s out-of-focus faces or black boxes with some white letters on them.

YAO | Cornell Study Abroad: Home Edition

For the first two months of summer, I didn’t even entertain the idea of staying home. Even as the nationwide case count skyrocketed, my friends and I discussed what in-person lectures might entail and made plans to meet up once classes started. The little town of Ithaca lodged in my mind as a refuge, where I would finally be free from the horrors of reality. Then August came, and the blows began to rain down. Cornell announced that it didn’t have the means to quarantine all the students from states on the New York Travel Advisory list.

YAO | Median Grades: Never the Whole Picture

As the economy descends into chaos, it’s time for Cornell to reconsider its grading policies. Namely, it’s time to reconsider the column of letters centered on every student transcript — each course’s median grades. Cornell publishes median grades on transcripts to protect against grade inflation and to represent each student’s performance in comparison to those of their peers. However, the University fails to acknowledge that, more often than not, these grades disadvantage students during graduate school admissions and job or internship searches. This semester, Cornell decided against compiling median grades.