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Plans for a free-standing bell tower on campus were in the works as early as 1913. Ninety-five years later, the McFarland Bell Tower was constructed.

URBANA — The University of Illinois is planning to allow students who fail a course this semester to receive a “No Record COVID” designation that doesn’t affect their GPA.

Students would also have until the end of exams to drop a class.

The academic senate will meet Friday to consider the proposal, which has received the unanimous support of the education policy and senate executive committees.

The goal of the proposal is “to address some of the concerns that we’ve been hearing from students recently about mental health and anxiety around grading and add/drop deadlines,” executive committee Chairman Rob Kar said.

Under the proposal, students who get an F in a course would automatically have that turned into an “NX” on their transcript, for “No Record COVID.”

The student wouldn’t earn credit for the course, so it would have to be retaken to receive credit.

Students who receive a D-, D or D+ would also have the option of converting that into a “No Record COVID” designation.

Students started a petition to let them choose between earning a letter grade and receiving credit or no credit, as was done in the spring.

While that’s not being proposed, student senators said Wednesday that they support the later drop deadline and the move to no Fs.

“A lot of students are struggling,” student senator Dana Yun said. “I think it’s critical that we support our students in this way. … This is a good step in hearing our students.”

Kevin Pitts, vice provost for undergraduate education, said under the proposal, courses that are dropped by the last day of finals, Dec. 18, “would not appear on the transcript.”

“The course literally disappears,” he said, “just like it would have been before the regular drop deadline.”

Senators were hoping to pass the proposal by the end of the week so students would have clarity going into Thanksgiving break.

“This is a huge source of stress for our students,” said Brian Brauer, chair of the Council of Academic Professionals. “The faster we can dispose of this matter, the more it’s going to benefit their ability to actually have a break over break.”

After Thanksgiving, UI classes will move entirely online for the rest of the semester.

“We’ve had a successful semester so far, but it’s not going to be business as usual after this Friday,” Braur said. “The majority of (students) are going to be going home, where we know that study spaces are not ideal. … The semester is going to get more challenging for students after Friday, not less challenging.”


Ben Zigterman is a reporter covering business at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@bzigterman).

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