CHAPEL HILL – UNC faculty and student leaders said at a Board of Trustees meeting last week that they were concerned about a policy which significantly shortens the drop/add period for classes. They said it hurts students who plan to attend graduate school and also could cause Carolina to fall behind peer institutions.
The policy, proposed by the UNC System’s Board of Governors, is a system-wide measure which limits the course adjustment period to 10 class days. It’s an effort to make the system more efficient and help students graduate on time by providing more open seats at the beginning of the semester.
If students do not drop the class by the deadline, they get a permanent “W,” indicating a withdrawal, on their transcripts.
UNC-Chapel Hill currently allows students to drop courses before the end of the eighth week of classes with departmental permission, without having a W placed on their transcript. The policy is required to be implemented no later than the fall of 2014.
Jan Boxill, UNC’s Faculty Chair, said at a Board of Trustees committee Wednesday that it is a “one-size-fits-all” policy that will not help Carolina’s students succeed.
“While it may seem reasonable to standardize policies across the campuses that will be cost-effective and foster academic success, this one is not,” Boxill said.
Boxill said that receiving a “W” on a transcript creates a stigma concerning the student’s academic credentials.
“Further, the policy change is likely to deter our students, many of whom are heading to graduate school or professional schools from trying out classes in new areas for fear that the late withdrawal will leave a permanent W on their transcripts,” Boxill said.
When the policy was introduced in the fall of 2012, it was met with resistance from then UNC Student Body President Will Leimenstoll and the Faculty Executive Committee, who voted unanimously against the proposal.
Current Student Body President Christy Lambden told the Board of Trustees Thursday that once the policy is implemented in Chapel Hill, UNC’s drop/add period would be shorter than many peers institutions. He said many members of Student Government feared it would cause Carolina to fall behind.
“The reality is that students should be encouraged to challenge themselves academically,” Lambden said. “This policy will only lead to students taking a safer course load that inhibits creative academic exploration, a key component to a robust liberal arts education.”
In 2004, UNC lengthened the drop period from six to eight weeks, according to a University publication.