Combat Distance Learning Challenges by Changing WIU Spring 20 Classes to Pass/Fail

    In light of COVID-19 concerns, WIU has elected to move all classes for the Spring 2020 semester to an online format. Many students purposefully avoid online classes as the ability to grasp new concepts can be more difficult without the physical presence of a professor. Others find it hard to focus as there are more distractions at home than in a classroom. Additionally, resources normally available to students on campus at WIU will not be accessible at home. WIU has attempted to move some of these online, but there are limitations to how helpful they will be without face-to-face interaction. Furthermore, though I trust WIU's faculty is working earnestly to prepare for the switch online, I fear the change will be difficult for them as well. Not all professors have taught an online class before and they may be unaware of how to handle the online format. These factors culminate to the fact that an all-online approach will present many challenges to students that could ultimately negatively affect their semester grades and GPA. I feel it is unfair to risk ruining the GPAs students have worked diligently for throughout their schooling based on a semester riddled with unprecedented changes. Therefore, I am petitioning for all classes at WIU for the Spring 2020 semester to be graded on a Pass/Fail basis. This will ensure that students must still complete the work that is expected of them, without risking their GPA. This would not be a bizarre or extreme move either, as other universities (such as Stanford, Harvard, and Cornell Law) have already begun to move to a Pass/Fail system. Abolishing grades for the semester would help relieve the extra stress and anxiety students have been feeling during this crisis, and WIU should be the next institution to make the change.
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