UTK: Change the grades to pass/fail for spring2020

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Rrita Hashani
Rrita Hashani signed this petition

I know the university did the right thing by making classes online for the rest of the semester. It would truly be dangerous to have such a large number of students walking around.

However, with shifting classes online, there come a number of drawbacks as well. It greatly impacts:
-students who learn best in class and go to actual office hours to communicate with professors, to be fair this was what we were expecting when paying the tuition (some professors are going to upload online lectures, which would halt students from asking questions and engaging in lively discussion)
-students who have different/limited internet; it makes keeping up with the material quite difficult and is unfair
-students in turmoil and have to get housing, flight tickets, and job arrangements settled
-students faced with a multitude of personal issues induced by the unfortunate circumstances
-students whose home environments do not nurture their academic growth
-students who need disability/extra services/tutoring/academic coaching are at a disadvantage

I believe that Vol means ALL, and with the current grading scale I feel it wouldn't be a fair reflection of academic potential: there are simply too many issues that can cause grades to drop. All these sudden changes, social as well, can negatively impact the mental health of students and consequently academic performance. I am a student on the Dean's List and have certainly worked for it last semester. Most of my peers would agree there is too much going on for our grades to be accurate representations. We are concerned, as some students, myself included, have summer internships lined up. A drop in GPA, which is prone to happen for many solely because of the new online system and other abrupt changes resulting, would be detrimental.

I think a way to combat that happening to UTK students would be to switch the grading scales to Pass/Fail for all classes for Spring 2020. This would ease the tension faced by students during this chaotic time. It would also allow students to focus more on the material without getting caught up in the complete change in routines, resulting in an unfair GPA drop. It would allow teachers to get through the material efficiently and effectively without having to deal too much with student disputes which is bound to arise from technical differences and all the drawbacks aforementioned. Many colleges (MIT, Vanderbilt, City Universities of NY, Georgetown, Smith College, Duke, Grinnell College, Northwestern etc.) have switched to Pass/Fail for all classes for the semester. I think it is fair to ask that we do the same to ease the temporary transition happening right now. I am concerned that all Vols won't have the equal opportunity to achieve and shouldn't be academically hurt for a situation completely out of our hands. 
Thank you for your time.