Student-led petition helps prompt change in semester’s grading system


Gerard Borne/The Lion's Roar

Freshman marketing major Anyree Phillips created a petition for the university to go to a pass/fail system after she noticed some flaws in the online courses. The petition had over 4,000 signatures in three days.

After the university closed face-to-face classes and moved to an online-based setting, it didn’t take long for university student Anyree Phillips, a freshman marketing major, to find some flaws in the system.

To bring these problems to the attention of the administration, Phillips turned to, a website that allows users to create and sign petitions.
While Phillips noted that the university made the transition very quickly and that professors were utilizing tools like Zoom and Google Meet, she also noted some drawbacks. She contended that an optional universal pass or fail system could help relieve students’ stress while reflecting on the situations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“When it comes to higher education, most students choose the traditional classroom setting rather than the online learning setting due to the many opportunities and resources presented,” shared Phillips in the description of the petition. “The transition to online learning has presented several negative effects.”
In the two weeks following the creation of the petition, over 4,800 people signed in support of the universal pass or fail option.

On March 31, the hopes of the petitioners were answered. University Provost Tena Golding announced via email that the university would be adding an optional pass system for students at the end of the semester.

“After listening to many voices – students, faculty, department heads, deans, the University of Louisiana System – regarding the need for special grading accommodations during these unprecedented times, Southeastern is implementing Spring 2020 COVID-19 Grading Accommodations,” said Golding in her email.

Golding also included that more provisions are also coming, including extended withdrawal deadlines and an option to request a grade change.

“These accommodations include extended withdrawal deadlines, revisions to the incomplete grade policy, a new pass option and the option to request a grade change after final grades have been posted,” shared Golding.

Karley Bordelon, President of the Student Government Association, expressed confidence that the administration is keeping students’ best interests at heart.

“It is tough to determine how to treat this situation, as there are so many different outcomes of using a pass system,” said Bordelon. “It is completely different for every student, and they know they have to treat it that way. They want to make sure every student gets advised and gets the help they need to succeed this semester.”

Bordelon also mentioned how she was able to use the petition to bring attention to the issue with the administration.

“When students come together to create change at a university level, they cannot be ignored,” said Bordelon. “I have been meeting with our SLU administration since early March and have been able to bring these surveys, comments and concerns to their attention.”

Even with a safety net, online classes can still be difficult to manage. Bordelon included a warning for her fellow classmates.

“Even though the option is there, I really encourage everyone to take the rest of their semester seriously,” said Bordelon. “This is material that we need to know to succeed in our careers.”

Bordelon went on to encourage students to make big changes in their situations by working together.

“To all my fellow students – continue to always speak out on what you want to see happen at our university, our state and our nation,” shared Bordelon. “This is just one example of how your voice matters when it comes to decision-making.”