The University of Windsor sign is shown in this file photo in Windsor, Ont., on Nov.16. 2012. (Melanie Borrelli / CTV Windsor)

A petition asking the University of Windsor to add more grading options has garnered over 4,000 student signatures.

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university announced revised grading options for students completing their winter semester.

“We want to safeguard your preparedness for the future while also providing flexibility to those of you who have faced significant challenges completing this semester,” says University of Windsor President Dr. Robert Gordon.

Students now have three options for each course taken this semester:

  • To accept the final course grade assigned by your professor;
  • To request a pass/non-pass grade based on the minimum required passing grade in your program;
  • To voluntarily withdraw from the course without academic penalty.

The petition put forth by the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA) says these three options aren’t enough for all students.

“Expecting students to write exams without exception, and only allowing them choices after final marks are posted, is unrealistic, unaccommodating, and unacceptable,” states Jeremiah Bowers, USWA president in the petition.

Students are asking the university to add two more grading options:

1. A grade freeze, whereas students can opt-out of final assessments and be graded on all coursework up to the last day of classes (provided 60 per cent of the grade has been assessed.)

2. To request a pass/non-pass grade based on all coursework completed before final assessments.

The university shifted its courses to online classes in mid-March following the coronavirus outbreak. However, some students say that they feel unprepared going into a finals exam given the quality of online instruction.

“Only one of my five professors are actually doing online classes, the other four just posted a couple of power points and said basically good luck,” says Matthew Durocher, second year business administrations student.

“A lot of students may be verbal learners, auditory learners and so it does pose a huge issue. We’re basically teaching ourselves all of the material for all of our classes,” says Katrina Bahnam, a third year law and politics student and president of the Society of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Bahman applied to law school this year and says the pass/fail grading option offered by the university isn’t viable for those interested in pursuing post-graduate education.

“Students who have taken pass fail classes may have already maxed out the amount they can have in order to apply for grad schools.” She adds that this option also doesn’t work for students looking up increase their GPA.

The University of Windsor gave CTV News a statement regarding the concerns:

During this calamity of COVID-19, the University of Windsor is doing everything it can to protect the health and safety of our campus community and preserve the integrity of our students’ education. We recognize the increased stress that COVID-19 has meant for students and for staff and faculty. In addition to the ongoing supports in Student Counselling, Student Health, Academic Advising, and Writing Support services, we have introduced new grading choices for students that are comprehensive, flexible, and fair. The choices go beyond what many other institutions are doing in striking a balance between freedom of choice for students and commitment to student learning. The choices encourage students to complete their semester’s learning objectives and thus prepare themselves for success in their programs next year. Our instructors have put a great deal of thought into the design and delivery of their courses and they genuinely want students to complete their learning during this difficult time. Alongside the health and wellness of our community, our priorities are to safeguard the academic integrity of our programs, preserve the academic freedom of our faculty members, and ensure the academic success of our students.