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UT Martin officials vote on pass-fail grading system

As students at the University of Tennessee at Martin make the transition from in-person to online classes, many requested the university implement a pass/fail system as opposed to the traditional letter grading scale.

The UT Martin Faculty Senate Committee in charge of grading systems met Monday, March 30 to discuss altering the grading system. Dr. Philip Cavalier, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, told WUTM News Wednesday that the Senate decided to continue with the traditional grading system.

"[The faculty senate] decided that it was not a good idea and wanted to encourage faculty to use things like 'incompletes' to help students who haven't made the transition well."

Cavalier clarified that all UTM faculty were not polled; however, the decision arose out of wide support. "I’ve been surprised how uniform that sense is across different departments."

While the university is not make the transfer to a pass/fail system of grading, professors are "aware of what is happening" to students, and they don't want students to fail since it's "not anything they can control."

An anonymous student started an online petition a week ago to persuade Univeristy of Tennessee administrators to make the change. As of Wednesday, April 1, the petition has over 1,750 signatures.

"I avoid taking online classes for a reason. I'm barely keeping up with my work at home," UTM freshman Anna Daniels wrote on the petition.

UTM Student Government Association President Devin Majors shared the petition to his Facebook, urging his friends to sign the petition.

"If I were not graduating this semester, I would drop all of my classes because it is unrealistic to expect college students to continue as normal with classes when so many of us are displaced, homeless, food insecure, emotionally distraught and more," Majors wrote.

Advocates for the switch have used #PassFailNation to voice their opinions on Twitter. Vanderbilt University, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and other universities around the country have made the transition to a pass/fail system.

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