A petition asking the Lehigh administration to grant a pass/fail grading option for the fall 2020 semester has now been signed by a number of people totaling just under a quarter of the student body.
The petition, which has about 1,700 signatures, was created in September with the help of Student Senate. Lehigh granted students such a pass/fail grading system last spring when campus shut down due to the pandemic but has not announced any similar system for this fall.
David Peterson, ’21, who wrote the petition, said he brought the concern to Student Senate after fellow classmates came to him for help. Peterson plays on Lehigh’s men’s lacrosse team.
“After having 50 people ask me in the span of a week, I thought it was something worth noting,” Peterson said. “So I started making the petition with the help of fellow student-athletes.”
The petition states that a pass/fail option is necessary since online instruction has “compromised” student’s ability to learn and urges Lehigh administration to “listen to the voices of students.”
Hannah Moriarty, a junior at Bucknell University, said she is glad Bucknell is giving the option to choose pass/fail since she tends to struggle with remote learning.
“There are just so many technical difficulties with online learning,” she said. “Students and teachers aren’t used to this type of interaction, and it really does make it harder to learn.”
Lauren Rodio, a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, agreed with Moriarty, and said even though she is not planning to take the option of pass/fail, she believes UPenn made the right decision for their student body.
Rodio also said by offering pass/fail, UPenn is recognizing their students still may be struggling with COVID related issues.
“Many of the same hardships of last semester are still very much present for students,” she said. “Students’ living situations, compromised work environments and concerns about health haven’t magically changed since the spring.”
Peterson and the Student Senate have brought these concerns to the Lehigh administration but have found little success.
Since the university’s announcement to move online for a period of time and suspend access to academic buildings, libraries, and gyms, students are worried their ability to learn has been further compromised.
Fran Orsini, ‘23, said she relies on the libraries as her study spot.
“Without the library environment, I have been struggling to study and complete my work to the best of my ability,” she said.
Peterson also pointed out that with the rising number of cases and quarantined students on and around campus, students will continue to struggle to adjust.
“Housing changes for both on and off-campus students in regards to isolation and quarantine has also caused a lot of stress and affects students’ ability to work,” he said.
Ultimately, Peterson said it would only be logical for Lehigh administration to reconsider after the changes put into place until mid-October.
The Student Senate is currently creating more solutions for a pass/fail option, which they plan to present to the Lehigh administration next week.