Allegheny academic drop period reduced

The Office of the Registrar announced that the college’s drop deadline was changing in a campus-wide email sent on Thursday, Aug. 20.

“Please note that the Drop deadline is three weeks earlier than in past semesters!” the email reads.

The deadline to drop a 14-week course has been reduced to two weeks into the semester from its previous five weeks. In addition to changing the drop deadline, the college has added a new student-initiated withdrawal policy.

The Office of the Registrar sent out a second email on Sept. 2 reminding students of the two-week drop deadline and included information on the student-initiated withdrawal policy. The policy can be found in The Compass and the Academic Bulletin.

The new policy is as follows: “Students may withdraw from a 14-week course without grade penalty through the first nine weeks of the semester. Students may withdraw from a 7-week course through the first four weeks of the course. Such a withdrawal will be denoted on the official transcript with a grade of ‘X,’ but the course will not be included in the calculation of the student’s GPA. A student contemplating a student-initiated withdrawal must consult with an academic adviser and course instructor. The adviser and instructor must sign a Student-Initiated Withdrawal card to verify that students have discussed their plans to withdraw from the course. The Student-Initiated Withdrawal card must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office by the deadline published in the online Academic Calendar. Students may take a student-initiated withdrawal for at most one course in a single semester and at most four courses during their studies at Allegheny.”

The Academic Standards and Awards Committee, headed last year by Jon Wiebel, assistant professor of communication arts, brought the new drop and withdrawal policies to the faculty for a vote. It passed last spring at the May 8 faculty meeting.

According to Wiebel, the conversation concerning the drop deadline has been ongoing since the 2013-14 academic year.

“We were asked, as the committee, to take a look at the drop policy as a way of enhancing student success…allowing students to have a little bit more flexibility in terms of their ability to get out of a class that they find themselves struggling in,” said Wiebel. “It’s not like we just took your ability to get out of your class from week five to week two. We actually extended it by four weeks and replaced it with a withdrawal policy that is completely student initiated.”

Wiebel also mentioned that an important factor in the decision to change the drop period was to normalize all schedule adjustment deadlines to two weeks.

Grant Marthinsen, ’18, was a student representative on ASAC last academic year. As a representative, Marthinsen said his role was to reflect student voice, which he believes he gathered through talking about the proposed change with members of ASG committees.

“I had full voting powers and our opinions were respected and solicited, so I think student voice was well listened, too,” said Marthinsen.

Marthinsen voted for the change which he believes serves students better than previous policy. But, he did show concern for how the new student-initiated withdrawal policy is being publicized to students.

“I would have liked to see it included in [yesterday’s] email,” said Marthinsen of the add, credit/no credit and drop deadline reminder email. “I imagine we’ll see a few more emails saying something about it or students will find out when they say, ‘Hey, I want to get out of this course.’”

The student-initiated withdrawal policy was announced to students in the Sept. 2 email with the subject “New Drop Policy” but the policy has been in place since the start of the academic year.

Following the Sept. 2 email, Emily Luther, ’15, was concerned she would be unable to decide in time whether or not she needed to drop a Spanish class and add another course in order to have enough credits to graduate in December.

“Most of the classes I have are just Mondays and Wednesdays. You don’t really get into what the class is going to be until the second or third week usually,” said Luther.

Even with her situation resolved, Luther still has concerns about having those deadlines at two weeks.

“I think five weeks might be a little long but two weeks might be a little short. You don’t have the opportunity to know if a class is worth your time,” she said.