Right now, university policy states that “courses enrolled through the pass-no pass grading option may not satisfy a general education requirement.” That presents a problem. While I agree Furman students should not be able to pass-fail all 15 general education requirements (GERs), they should be able to pass-fail at least some of them.

It is impossible to be talented in every subject, and making students worry about their GPA in subjects they might not be as talented in causes unnecessary stress. There is a culture of high achievement Furman and students hold themselves to a high standard. Providing students with the option to pass-fail a GER would help alleviate some of the stress they place on themselves.

One class that is frequently complained about is the Mind and Body GER (which most students satisfy by taking HSC-101, Wellness Concepts). Many students work very hard in that class only to make a C. This is far from ideal, and students are often overly stressed about this course. While GERs allow students to have experiences they might not have at a research institution, their academic record should not be affected by subjects they struggle in and which they likely would not have taken if these subjects were not required GERs.

Anyone can be good at anything, but no one can be good at everything. Not allowing students to pass-fail GERs reinforces the expectation that Furman students should be good at everything and perfectly well-rounded. This is not helpful for students. GERs can be helpful for students who don’t know what they want to do or who are interested in a lot of subjects. But requiring students to be good at everything sets high standards that are impossible to meet. These standards are disastrous for students’ mental health. Depression and anxiety rates are already dangerously high among members of Generation Z. It may be true that high standards are good because they encourage students to push themselves, but if those standards are too high and apply to everything, they are unattainable.

Of course, it is possible to graduate even if you earn a C, but due to the high standards students place on themselves, they are unlikely to look at it this way. Although the university is not placing the standard of making an A in every class on students, the overall culture suggests that if one is unable to do this, they are a failure. Furman is aware of this schoolwide culture of holding yourself and your peers to high standards and even brags about the many over-achievers when giving tours. The least they can do is provide students with an option to take required courses without unnecessary added stress if they are unable to meet these standards.

Not providing students with the safety net of being able to pass-fail a GER is damaging and can lead to unnecessary stress and feelings of unworthiness, raising deeper concerns about social expectations that are systematically damaging. Furman wants well-rounded students — but in order to be well-rounded, students need to be healthy. Unnecessary negative grades in required courses prevent students from enjoying their college experience fully with some sense of safety if they are unable to meet the difficult standards they hold themselves to. The point of a liberal arts education is to experience many different fields and subjects — but should these new experiences be allowed to challenge our well-being? College is about learning, but no one is able to learn if they are not healthy. The inability to pass-fail at least one GER makes students feel as though they must do well in every subject. Students may experience a mental health crisis as a result of the unnecessary and impossible standards placed on them. Providing them with the safety-net of pass-failing GERs can help relieve some of their anxiety surrounding their grades and perhaps campus culture surrounding high-achievement will become less toxic as well.