Transition to Pass-Fail System at Arkansas Tech for Spring 2020

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2020 has brought many trials in just a few short months, but only one has infiltrated more than 150 countries and impacted truly every human life on planet Earth. COVID-19 has touched all of us and disturbed the order of every American. It seems unnecessary to say, but the global pandemic has added an exorbitant amount of stress to the American population and mental health is dangerously low. Psychologists fear this crisis could lead to a spike in suicide rates similar to the resulting spike of the Great Depression. Students in America are already at increased susceptibility to poor mental health, and the combination of dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, along with the stress of upholding G.P.A.s with grad school acceptances and thousands of dollars in scholarships on the line, could have thousands of college students on the brink. If mental health doesn’t suffer, grades certainly will, and the stress of isolation, sick loved ones, transitioning out of the classroom, and having to pick up and move out of dorms and across the state—or even the country—could be the final push that tips the already-sensitive scales that balance the stability of our grades and our minds. We fear this cocktail of stressors could endanger the lives of thousands of students, many of which occupy Arkansas Tech University classes. It’s for this reason that we’ve created a petition to institute a pass-fail (credit-no credit) system for the Spring 2020 semester as many other schools across the nation—including here in the state of Arkansas—have chosen to do. This change could take high levels of pressure off the nearly 12,000 students enrolled in classes at Arkansas Tech. With your help and signature, we hope to enact this potentially life-saving change.

Although the details would be left to the school, we see a pass-fail system as being a temporary change from the A-F 4-point scale, to a completion-based model that would require students to simply pass the class at a determined overall score; perhaps a 70 to satisfy all degree and prerequisite requirements. Students who satisfied the agreed-upon score would receive a completion grade, similar to that of a dual-credit course from high school. Such a model would require students to attain the necessary knowledge from their courses without inflicting the added stress of never missing a point. This would leave G.P.A.s unaffected for the spring 2020 semester, allowing students to better cope with the global disaster at hand.