October 1, 2020
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Petition to protect student GPAs during pandemic secures over 1,000 signatures

By Len La Rocca
News Editor

A student at the College has created a petition for all professors to implement a “pass/fail” system, opposed to a standard grading scale, on spring 2020 semester courses. In a matter of hours, the petition has amassed over 1,000 signatures. 

All courses will be offered online until at least April 5, and students were asked to remain off campus during this period. (tcnj.edu)

According to Daniel Kramer, a senior finance major and the creator of the petition, President Kathryn Foster has seen and acknowledged his efforts.

“Dr. Foster gave an adequate response,” he said. “I hope, however, she hears the concerns of the student body and makes the right decision in an effort to protect the academic careers of the entire TCNJ community.”

Kramer said his petition was inspired by the inability to streamline education during such uncertain times. 

“I feel like school should not be a priority right now,” Kramer said. “I do think school is important, obviously, but I feel like sometimes it can be a burden and could lead you to neglect other things in life. This is not the time for that to happen.”

Although the College has only announced that classes will be held online for two weeks following spring break, Kramer worries that the administration will echo the decision of Princeton and Rutgers to teach digitally for the rest of the semester. He predicted that the popularity of his petition is largely due to students’ concern with such an unfamiliar class dynamic. 

“If anything, it just shows that the community is obviously a little bit troubled by this, and I feel like a lot of people are kind of uniting behind it,” he said. “If this petition does pass…I feel like it would ease a lot of our nerves.”

For students who are already succeeding in class, Kramer proposes that they still have the option to stick with the grading scale. 

“It’s not one side versus the other side. (The purpose of the petition is) to have that option. So whatever your circumstances are, you could still be okay,” he said. “If you do well in a class, if you still want to raise your GPA, you should still have that option to do so.”

As families settle into quarantine with no clear end in sight, Kramer believes that the high levels of anxiety the pandemic brings could severely impact a student’s grades.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next few months over this virus, and if I have other priorities, then my grades may go down,” he said. “So by doing this, this can give me, basically, a safety net.”

Many students at the College agree that this pandemic has affected day-to-day life too severely to be graded as if classes were resuming with zero distractions.

“In a time of a national crisis or emergency, because life’s stresses are amplified, you may not have enough time to devote to your classes,” said Matthew Long, a special education major and graduate student at the College. “Your grades may not reflect very well.”

While some students may not be too concerned about their own classes, they are still looking out for those who may struggle due to the nature of their studies. 

“I know a lot of students who will be greatly affected by online learning, especially the ones who have more hands-on majors such as music and art,” said Sam Shaw, a senior communication studies major. “I signed the petition with them in mind.”

Although Kramer admits that this policy can be abused by students who are looking to take it easy for the rest of the term, he proposes that this semester is an extreme exception.

“Imagine how much pressure there will be (if) your whole town has been on lockdown for a month and a half and you have to keep up your grades,” he said. “It’s just a lot on someone.”

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