In an unthinkable turn of events, the university’s recent move to default classes as “Pass/No Pass” has wreaked havoc far and wide on the one attribute that makes UC Berkeley students UC Berkeley students: their competitiveness. Indeed, students have just stopped… competing.
“I used to be on our online Piazza forum for Math 54 a good six to seven hours a day, asking questions, challenging GSIs, answering my incompetent classmates’ questions, dropping super relatable and helpful applications of Linear Algebra to special and general relativity, etc,” freshman engineering student Brett Hammond said. “Now, since classes are pass-no-pass, I’ve cut down my Piazza time to about four hours a day. What’s the point of doing that now? I have to admit, the new system really makes me feel like a bad-boy.”
Rumors spread that in one of Berkeley’s most infamously rigorous classes, Computer Science 61B, a record number of students have been willing to offer help to classmates, share code, tutor each other, and publicize Zoom study sessions for any and all to join. One student even reported the new class atmosphere to be “community-driven, collaborative, helpful, and warm.”
“My lab-partner Derek, who usually like takes over and doesn’t even let me open the projects on my computer, actually let me do one-sixteenth of the project in this unit! He’s just gotten so chillaxed in all of this. So crazy,” remarked CS61B sophomore Gabriella Marquez.
Some Professors too have noticed a change in behavior of their best and brightest.
“So there’s this one male student, Andrew,” recalled Political Theory Professor Mark De Gaulle. “Andrew always sat at the front of the class, raised his hand 30 times per lecture, and would offer constant…revisions…to my slides – usually punctuation errors, with occasional spelling remarks or personal analyses of my theory definitions. He often came to office hours and didn’t allow any of my other students to ask questions. Oh, Andrew. Quite the kid. Now, anyways, since the Pass/No Pass switch, it seems like he’s relaxed quite a bit, which is great, for him, you know? I think he needed that. He really hasn’t been vocal during Zoom lectures at all… I mean, you know, I have everyone muted so that might play a role–oh, you say there’s a chat tab on Zoom? Where students can ask questions? And raise their hands? Hmmm, maybe I should look into that.”
Aside from professors, it seems the general consensus among students is that the Pass/No Pass shift really did alleviate a considerable amount of stress about grades, GPAs, course loads, and identity.
“This P/NP system really took some weight off my shoulders. I mean, I have all As and A+s with my 17.5 unit course-load right now, but I really haven’t been trying to do school, like literally at all. Just because I was the Valedictorian of my high school doesn’t mean I have to try during a global pandemic, you know?” commented third-year Economics student Andrea Lee. “My GPA is a 3.8 right now, but I’m gonna pass-no-pass my classes anyway. That’s what everyone’s doing, and I want to just go with the flow. It’s just so… freeing, you know – being relaxed about school. Did I mention that I was the Valedictorian?” said Andrew Lee.
The Free Peach’s statistical modeling team surveyed 1000 undergrads and projected that an overwhelming 95% of students will likely Pass/No Pass all of their classes this semester. We reached back out to our interviewees to confirm our model with them. Hammond and Marquez both said that while they are super relaxed about it, they are still deciding. Andrew Lee declined to comment.