We, the editorial team of The Reflector, would like to applaud Mississippi State University for a successful first semester combating the COVID-19 pandemic on the Starkville campus. While cases outside the small town of Starkville continue to skyrocket, MSU has continued to see consistently low case numbers. This can be safely said to be a result of the effectual implementation of university policy, which we affirm and celebrate.
However, it seems prudent to suggest, as a voice of students across campus, that there be considerations for the next semester of classes. As students struggle through the final, waning hours of their first full semester of COVID-19, it has become clear some things must be accounted for by the university. The drastic reduction of on-campus events and simultaneous increase of students remaining inside for long periods has resulted in a second epidemic on the campus of MSU, that of mental health concerns.
With a scourge of mental health issues assailing students, we propose to the university several suggestions which we feel would be beneficial to the student experience here at MSU. Firstly, student organizations – whether religious or non-religious, Greek or non-Greek, niche or well-known – should be given equal treatment in accordance with university policy. It should be just as easy, or just as difficult, for any student organizations to have events on campus. Secondly, MSU should provide institutional assistance in organizing COVID-19-compliant events, rather than simply providing guidelines. We hope this will allow more groups to try and provide a diversity of experiences on campus.
Concerning other issues, we implore the university to remain flexible next semester. After issuing the guidelines for the spring semester, we ask the university not to become rigid in their plans. The schedule for the spring semester looms large and imposing, for the lack of breaks which has always been found in the spring semester has now been compounded. We believe one of the possible remedies to this would be to sprinkle the normal break days of spring break throughout the spring semester, giving the much-needed occasional mental rest to weary students.
Finally, we believe the university should strongly consider the return of an opt-in pass/fail system. The increasing academic concerns of students due to the ever-shifting landscape created by the pandemic should not be seen as a mere attempt to escape academic rigor. Rather, we should not expect students and teachers to be able to adapt to such alien measures as we now find ourselves adhering to. With the massive amount of change imposed upon the student body, it would be the charitable choice to allow students the grace of pass/fail. To practically prevent the abuse of such systems, we also suggest the system have a limited, selective application, so students can choose one or two classes they feel were most affected to be graded as pass/fail.
By our continuing coverage of the university's amelioration of the crisis, we want to inform our readers of how MSU is working to the benefit of its student body, and by our words here today, we hope to assist in that endeavor of alleviating student stress as much as possible, while still maintaining the high academic standards of our beloved school. Therefore, we hope the university will consider the opinions here laid out, and we believe students will continue to let their voices be heard, both in our paper and on our campus.