UA students say finishing classes is 'asking too much,' demand passing grades

Students not only want classes to end but also want the university to issue passing grades to every student.

Thousands have signed a petition calling on the University of Arizona to end spring semester classes amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Students at the University of Arizona are calling on the school to end spring classes altogether and just give every student a passing grade.

The University of Arizona announced Wednesday that the remainder of all spring courses would be taught online and encouraged students to stay home. According to UofA’s website, "students should not return to campus" following spring break.  However, for students who do not have an alternative to on-campus housing, university resources will remain open for those individuals. 

Students who have the opportunity to move off-campus are encouraged to do so and are permitted to return to campus briefly to pick up their belongings. In response, student Maritza Almanza, a sophomore studying psychology, started a petition to end spring classes at the University of Arizona and adopt a pass/fail grading system. 

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With more than 8,800 signatures at the time of publication of this story's publication, the petition calls on the university to "honor the work that students have already done in their classes and remove the stressors that could endanger them more to the virus" by adopting a pass/fail system. 

According to the petition, “students should be planning how to survive the virus and quarantine themselves, not how they're going to pass their classes.” The petition also asks the university for a "partial reimbursement for spring tuition."

"Although online classes help slow the spread of the virus, they still require intellectual and sometimes emotional labor. This labor should not be the focus of students right now. They should be self-isolating and focusing on their health, so they don't get the virus. It's unreasonable to expect students to still be productive in a time of crisis. This is expecting too much from UofA students," the petition states.

Campus Reform reached out to Maritza for additional comments. In response, she sent an additional petition that says the University of Arizona is scamming students out of housing and meal plan refunds.

Campus Reform reached out to several students at the University of Arizona and asked for their thoughts on the petition.

[RELATED: Ivy League students demand laxed grading system to alleviate 'stress']

Adrian Soto, a junior physiology major, told Campus Reform, “I signed it for the greater good because it seems more students want it, than don’t. The feeling on campus is very low morale and drained. I work on campus, at the bookstore, and the energy and atmosphere is very depleted.” 

Another student, Rylan Hastings, a freshman majoring in global studies, was concerned about the emotional impact the COVID-19 outbreak is having on students. She told Campus Reform, “Not only is locking yourself in your house all day w[ith] the inability to see friends extremely detrimental to their health, but MANY were told that going completely virtual was not an option for them and were not accommodated for.” 

Hastings also noted the economic impacts of COVID-19 for students and their families, adding students’ parents are getting laid off, contributing to the financial panic of many Arizonans.

Shelby Humbarger, a freshman studying agricultural management technology, had a different reaction. While she understands the purpose of the pass/fail transition, she “also understand[s] if people don’t want that because we need to learn either way and it isn’t fair if someone is barely doing anything in that class [and] gets an easy passing grade.”

Humbarger gives credit to UA, noting that this is an unprecedented time in history and universities are responding to the best of their abilities.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ClayNRobinson