A petition urging the University of Mississippi to install a pass/fail grading system for fall semester has gained nearly 4,000 signatures. The petition calls on the university to ensure that students do not lose any academic progress they may have made by receiving poor grades this fall because of less than desirable course delivery methods.
The petition, posted on Change.org by social work major Jay Lee, has gained 3,848 signatures of its 5,000 signature goal by the time of publication. Beneath the post, there is a section for signers of the petition to leave a comment explaining why they chose to leave their signature. The comments range from humorous quips such as “I can’t read,” from sports and recreation administration major Nevin Wells, to more serious concerns.
“I struggle with online classes, but I had no choice this semester as my in-person classes suddenly got changed to remote without notifying me,” art major Haleigh Hillman wrote. “Not only that, but one of my professors has no clue how to use the technology needed for us to have our class remotely. It’s affecting our entire class. I’m a senior with two classes left to graduate … and I would love for these two classes not to destroy my GPA because I was forced to take them online.”
Lee said he decided to write the petition because he was struggling in his online classes, and he felt college students have already been left out of certain COVID-19 relief measures, such as government stimulus checks that excluded many college students who were claimed as dependents.
“I just don’t really think it’s fair,” Lee said. “I know that we have to take our precautions, and I feel like — if we’re at least going to have to take those precautions — the university could stand by us and be like, ‘We understand that nobody asked for this.’”
Lee said that he has not been in contact with any university administration regarding the petition, but he has spoken to Associated Student Body President Joshua Mannery about it. According to Lee, Mannery plans to make sure he advocates for these concerns.
“He hasn’t, of course, made his own stance on the issue, but he has let me know that he will listen to us because he just wants to listen to us, and that’s all we want,” Lee said.
Associate Provost Richard Forgette did not directly answer whether the university was made aware of the petition or if the university plans to respond to it. Instead, he noted that Z and P grade options were offered as a response to classes moving online mid-semester in the spring. Forgettesaid the university is continuing to listen to student concerns about course delivery.
“The university’s faculty are sensitive to student concerns about remote and online course delivery formats, and recognize that these formats present real challenges to student learning,” Forgette said. “The university’s Keep Teaching and Keep Learning teams are working actively to address these challenges.”