A screenshot of the petition by Marshall McCarl on

One Missouri State student started a petition to have a pass/fail grading system. University officials listened.

Marshall McCarl, senior cell and molecular biology major, believes some instructors will be able to navigate the switch to online learning, while others aren’t as prepared. This will “greatly affect the ability of the students to successfully learn from their professors,” said McCarl in his online petition.

McCarl argued MSU should follow other schools like Duke University, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Vanderbilt University, that have made the transition to a pass/fail grading system.

“In a time like this, we need to be productive with our decision making, and I know that having the option to take a class for pass/fail right now would lift a weight off of many students’ shoulders,” McCarl said.

The petition has collected almost 3,000 signatures. The university announced March 27 “the Provost's Academic Leadership Council has approved changes that are specific to the spring 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 response,” including a Pass/Not Pass policy. This was included in a release sent to students March 27 titled “Important Information for Students.”

Though the university has provided the pass/not pass option and notified students through their university emails, as well as updated the university website, the petition continues to collect signatures.

Before the release, students shared their opinions on the possibility of the policy enactment.

“I think the pass/fail system would be helpful because it’s not only difficult for us as students to try and learn this way but also for our professors,” said sophomore political science major Brittany Fouquet.

Some expressed concern feel they won’t be getting the most from their classes now that they’re being switched to online. The March 27 announcement from the university addressed this: “If you’re concerned about your ability to be successful in your course-work due to moving to online course delivery or your personal situation, you have options,” the release reads. See those options here.

While some are in support of this system, others aren’t.

“Honestly, I think that these peers of mine who started this should be more willing to adapt, have more resilience and be grateful that they are still able to take classes and for all that MSU has done to ease this transition from traditional classes to online,” said Boo Koss, graduate education and family and consumer science student.

To back up this point, Koss said MSU is providing computers, wifi hotspots, extended spring break and gave partial refunds for the semester.

See more about resources MSU is providing students here.

McCarl added that he knows some students aren’t going to want to let go of a letter grade, but he also knows that there will be just as many students who will struggle to work from home.

Students can view the pass/not pass policy for more details. The deadline to make changes is extended to May 1, for full-semester and second-block classes. Students can contact the registrar with questions at