By Nathan Schmidt
Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump’s latest press briefing took a turn for the academic when he asked that his administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic be graded on a pass/fail basis. The news came as deaths from the virus exceeded 14,000 in the United States, and as outbreaks began growing rapidly in previously-untouched rural counties.
The idea came after a CNN reporter asked how well Trump thought the White House had controlled the spread of disease so far, given that the federal response was completely nonexistent for the first month of known transmissions. Trump berated the reporter at length for asking such a “bad, bad, bad question.” But then he shifted tone, suggesting that his administration should not be conventionally graded at all.
“All I’m saying is, we don’t need to make it a letter grade. Okay? Let’s keep it simple. Let’s keep it simple, and keep it straight. Pass, or fail. And if you ask me, we’d get an A grade every time. But let’s make it pass/fail. And my administration definitely passes.”
Academic institutions like Fairfield University have been pressed with the option of using pass/fail grades to salvage students’ performance for the semester. FUSA, in particular, has raised a petition for the Academic Council to consider allowing students to choose how they will be graded in each of their courses. Therefore, the scene in Washington may appear familiar to many students — except that no student has had control over the government response to the pandemic, unlike the White House.
Luckily, not all is lost. Since Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the Democratic primaries and the presidential race has changed to a one-on-one faceoff, Trump will indeed get his wish of a pass/fail grade this November.