Exit policy’s title, deadlines up in air

Heather Scarlett

Students who want to withdraw from their courses may in the future need approval from the dean of their college.

Faculty Senate yesterday passed a proposal to revise the university exit policy, changing its name and deadlines. The revisions would still have to pass through President Lester Lefton and the board of trustees before becoming official.

“Currently, at the end of the semester and prior to finals week, students can withdraw from classes,” said Cheryl Casper, Faculty Senate chair.

Timothy Moore, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, presented the plan to the senate as a representative of the college and department deans and chairs.

The revisions would change the name of the policy from “university exit” policy to “complete term withdrawal,” Moore said. Of more importance to students, the changes would also move the deadline for withdrawing from a semester from the current 15-week deadline to 10 weeks.

There is already a 10-week deadline for regular course withdrawal, which applies to individual classes, Casper said. The university exit policy applies to all classes.

A change in the title would more appropriately describe what the policy does, she said. Casper said with the current name of “university exit,” students think they are actually leaving the university, and that they will have to reapply to return. However, they are still enrolled and can come back next semester. The name change would reflect that.

George Garrison, senator and professor of pan-African studies, said the university should protect students, and there should not be a 10-week restriction period. He thinks there should be an open withdrawal option all semester.

The senate does recognize that there could be reasons for students to want to withdraw after the 10-week period, such as a medical emergency or a death in the family. Moore said a student would have to go to the dean’s office and show evidence of these reasons to leave for the semester.

If a student needs to leave the university, they need to do it properly so they can come back if they want, he said.

Some faculty senators voiced opinions that the wording of the policy could be confusing to students.

Ann Jacobson, associate professor of nursing, said the policy should be more student friendly, because students may think they would have to speak directly with the dean, and that could be intimidating.

“(That is) at least how they would perceive the language,” she said.

Casper explained the dean’s office is where a student would make the withdrawals, but students would not have to meet with the dean in person. Most deans have an associate dean or a student services department within the college to deal with those kinds of issues, she said.

Garrison said he thinks it would be a good idea to speak with a student committee, and that they could give insight to some of the problems with the policy.

In other business, the Senate discussed revisions to be made to the university’s discrimination and harassment policies and reviewed new degree programs.

Contact academic affairs reporter Heather Scarlett at [email protected].