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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Concerns with academic policy changes

<tober 3rd the Education and Curriculum Committee (ECC) will recommend two important academic policy changes to the faculty. One proposed change pertains to the late drop deadline, and the other concerns Carleton’s S/Cr/Nc (more commonly known as ‘scrunch’) policy.

The ECC will recommend that the late drop deadline, currently the last day of classes, be moved to the end of seventh week. The ECC will also suggest three changes to the S/Cr/Nc policy: eliminating ‘pre-scrunch,’ mandating professor signatures on all S/Cr/Nc cards and moving the S/Cr/Nc deadline from the last day of classes to the end of seventh week.

Some of these proposed changes would undermine students’ ability to use the S/Cr/Nc option for its intended purpose. As stated in the academic handbook, the purpose of the S/Cr/Nc option is to “encourage exploration into unfamiliar, risky areas of the curriculum.” For students, this option does not mean just enrolling in an African Literature class as a junior chemistry major, but it also means engaging with the material and working hard to master it throughout the entire term—just as you would in a class that is required for your major.

Moving the late drop and S/Cr/Nc deadlines forces students to decide whether or not to engage themselves in the last weeks of the term. If this junior chemistry major found herself struggling in week 6 of the Literature class, she would have to decide at that point whether to ‘scrunch’ the class. ‘Scrunching’ at that point in the term creates a disincentive for students to commit themselves academically past the end of seventh week.

Although having professors sign off on the S/Cr/Nc card would open important dialogue between the student and professor, this has the potential to create a divide between students who ‘scrunch’ a class and those who do not. We are concerned by the possibility that the students who have ‘scrunched’ might receive less feedback and attention from professors in the last few weeks of the course. This change would undermine students’ ability to carry out their academic exploration into the last third of the term. If the deadline were to remain on the last day of classes, this issue would not be a concern.

Last spring upon learning of these proposed policy changes, several CSA senators decided to collect signatures petitioning the ECC and faculty to modify their recommendations. The petition addressed the S/Cr/Nc deadline shift. In seven days we collected over 550 student signatures, more than 25% of the Carleton student population. Unfortunately, the ECC chose not to change their recommendations despite the demonstrated opposition of the student body.

Now, the decision to approve these recommendations rests with the faculty at large. The policies will be debated in the faculty meeting on October 3rd and brought to a vote during the subsequent meeting on November 7th.

If you disagree at all with the proposed changes we urge you to talk to your professors and voice your concerns. The vote rests in their hands, and having open dialogue between professors and students is the best way to reach a compromise and to ensure a fair outcome of this vote. If you have any interest in helping us spread the word about these changes and their ramifications, please contact [email protected] or [email protected].

-Benjamin Somogyi and Gracie Ogilby are fourth year students.

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