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Proposed legislation limits number of class drops to four

By Sana Yaklur     4/15/14 3:43pm

The Faculty Senate received a proposal from the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum in March to limit the number of consequence-free drops a student can have during his or her career at Rice, according to Faculty Senate Speaker Carl Caldwell.

The Faculty Senate received a proposal from the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum in March to limit the number of consequence-free drops a student can have during his or her career at Rice, according to Faculty Senate Speaker Carl Caldwell.

The proposal would allow students to drop a maximum of four classes during their time at Rice, Caldwell said. Any further dropped classes would be marked as withdrawals on the student’s transcript, according to Caldwell.



The recommendations were proposed to give upperclassmen an incentive to realistically weigh their curriculum needs with the demand of challenging courses and extracurricular activities so that the students’ effort and space in high-demand classes will not be wasted, CUC Chair and Anthropology Professor Susan McIntosh said.

Earlier, the Faculty Senate had requested that the CUC started looking into the impact of the drop deadline on students’ completion of degree requirements, according to McIntosh. 

“There was concern that students were routinely registering for more courses than they intended to complete, and the late drop deadline meant that other students could not fill the seats they vacated,” McIntosh said.

The CUC looked at what the drop deadlines were at peer institutions and worked with the SA to create a student survey, McIntosh said. It found that peer institutions such as Brown, Dartmouth and Duke had drop deadlines of 10 days to two weeks into the semester, while other peer institutions, such as Cornell, Harvard, and Princeton had drop deadlines of five to nine weeks into the semester, according to McIntosh.

The CUC also found out from the survey that 45 percent of the Rice students surveyed register for more courses than they intend to complete, and that 44 percent said that they dropped courses because they had too high of an academic load, McIntosh said. This raised concerns that the current drop system was encouraging students to take on courseloads that are too rigorous and stressful and that prevent them from doing as well as they could in courses they end up completing, according to McIntosh. 

The CUC also found from the survey that 44 percent of students couldn’t get into courses they wanted, McIntosh said.

According to Caldwell, this proposal, however, is very controversial, so the Faculty Senate has decided to table the issue until next year.

“We have too many things to deal with this year,” Caldwell said. “We also don’t want to rush into [a decision about the proposal], because we know there are major disagreements about it; we want more information on it first.”

According to Caldwell, the faculty is split on the issue. Some faculty members don’t see a need for the change, he said. However, other faculty members believe this limit on drops is necessary in light of the increased enrollment numbers in Rice, according to Caldwell.

“There are some faculty members who think the system for drops works fine as it is,” Caldwell said. “But there are other faculty members who think this change should be implemented for a variety of reasons.”

WenTing Li, a Sid Rich College freshman, does not think that limiting the number of penalty-free drops is a good idea. 

“I don’t think this is a good idea because many students have no idea what to expect when they first register for a class,” Li said. “And it often takes a few weeks (or after an exam) for them to realize that a class is not suitable for them, so they should have the right of dropping it if it really doesn’t fit them.”



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