By: Selah Vetter
College has always been difficult, but students in college during the COVID-19 pandemic are experiencing even more stress than normal due to the new format of classes.
“This year, COVID has taken a huge unexpected toll on all of us,” pre-business sophomore student Margaret McAlindon said. “Whether teacher or student, in one way or another we have felt the burden of being in such an unfamiliar time.”
McAlindon and her friends started a petition on Change.org to have Samford University allow a pass or fail option for all classes this semester. Last spring when the semester was moved online due to the pandemic, the university gave students the option to opt for a pass or fail designation for their classes if they preferred. At the time this article was printed, only 10 people had signed the petition online.
“Samford has an amazing community and really takes care of their students,” McAlindon said. “This request is in the best interest of the students and their success.”
McAlindon argued that not every student is best fitted to learn in online or hybrid classes. These students struggle to adapt to online learning, causing them to receive lower grades this semester, she said.
“So many of us desire for the day we can be completely in person again and are barely getting through,” McAlindon said. “While we rightfully should be held accountable for the work, there is lack of empathy, resources and flexibility to help us adjust to this new way of learning.”
Other students may also have difficulty with finishing work online on time due to a lack of flexibility of times, especially if the student has a job.
“I live off campus with a full time job while still a full time student,” McAlindon said. “Regardless of explaining to my teachers my situation, I have only had one willing to work with me. I even had to drop classes because of refusal to work with me. As a result, I have missed multiple tests and assignments.”
McAlindon also stressed how the pandemic has caused students to struggle with their mental health. Due to social distancing guidelines and less in-person events and gatherings on campus, many students are likely experiencing loneliness this semester.
“Many students already struggle with mental health and the isolation adds to it. This trickles down and really influences classes,” McAlindon said. “While it is understandable the rules Samford has in place due to COVID, we cannot discount the effect on the student.”
Samford University’s administration responded to the petition by stating, ““In spring, the pass-fail option was implemented due to the abrupt nature of our distancing at midterm. There was little time for instructional adjustments for faculty and students as we moved to remote learning; thus, we offered the option to petition for a pass-fail grade in some courses. Although fall 2020 has most certainly been stressful for students, Samford faculty used the summer to plan for multiple forms of instructional delivery. Most faculty and staff members have gone above and beyond to extend grace and provide appropriate academic support for Samford students. Thus, a pass-fail option is not warranted for fall 2020. Any change to pass-fail would need to follow a proper process through faculty senate, academic administration and each school, which would be a challenge this late in the term.”
For students struggling with their mental health, the office of Counseling Services & Wellness Programs at Samford University offers support and help. Counseling Services are located in DBH 203 and can be contacted at email@example.com or 205-726-4083. The office is also hosting a weekly quarantine support group on Zoom.