New late-withdrawal policy affects students, faculty
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 18:09
At the beginning of the school year, Lynn Weiner, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, emailed faculty members requiring they outline the university’s new late withdrawal policy in their syllabuses.
What is this new policy?
“The petition form for a late withdrawal now requires the signature of not only the course instructor but the department chair and the dean, as well,” University Registrar Sheila Coffin said.
“The Registrar’s Office wanted colleges to take more responsibility for enforcing this rule,” Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Lois Backas said. “It’s an academic issue, so who should be the proper person to sign off on this?”
Previously, petition forms required the signature of only the course instructor and students would be granted late withdrawals, provided they had given documentation or explanation supporting their requests. The last day for a withdrawal in the fall 2012 semester is Oct. 29, allowing 10 weeks before withdrawals are considered late.
“The change is, consideration for a late withdrawal is now given only to petitions with documentation that supports extraordinary non-academic circumstances that occurred in the final weeks of a semester,” Coffin said. “The colleges play a greater role now in considering each petition.”
According to Coffin, many institutions allow students two-thirds of a semester to withdraw from a course, and Roosevelt conforms to this.
“The student has the right to withdraw by the deadline,” Backas said. “However, they have to do something in registrar’s office. They can’t just stop going to class. There are many reasons we would accept a late withdrawal, and most are non-academic. Late withdrawals for poor grades are not fair to other students.”
Reasons students withdraw late are typically injuries, illness or other extraordinary life circumstances. Poor academic performance is not an accepted reason.
“This is still new for us,” Backas said. “It’s been quite an eye-opener. I had no idea how much of this was happening. A lot of instructors didn’t know what the policy was. We have to do some investigations and a lot of students do have legitimate reasons for late withdrawals. We’re not above signing the waiver for a legitimate reason.”
The Petition Committee, consisting of a member from the Office of the Registrar, a member from the Office of Student Accounts and a member from the Office of Financial Aid, reviews all petitions. However, the decision to approve a late withdrawal is made by the college.
“Completing two-thirds of any course is ample time for determining academic progress and to withdraw for any reason,” Coffin said.
“It is important that teachers and students be more educated about the policy so it’s not a huge shock to anyone,” Backas said.
Prior to the policy change, students could earn an “F” in a course and petition to have the grade changed to a “W.” If students did not submit a petition to have this changed, they would retain the “F” grades on their transcripts.
“In an effort to have all late ‘W’ grades reflect withdrawal and not academic performance, the late withdrawal policy was changed,” Coffin said.
According to Backas, students may petition for a tuition remission for withdrawn classes after the withdrawal.
Students may also petition a denied late withdrawal.
“Students could certainly come back to me, but hopefully I’m asking at the front end on our first meeting for the information and proof needed to approve the late withdrawal,” Backas said.
Backas said the process to approve or deny a late withdrawal is fairly quick and that the college would attempt to make accommodations through the process for students who are sick, hospitalized and in other extraordinary circumstances.
Backas estimated that 20 students in the College of Arts and Sciences petition for late withdrawal per semester.
“It is highly recommended that students be aware of the deadlines for a ‘W’ grade and monitor their academic performance during the first two-thirds of a course to determine whether or not they should withdraw,” Coffin said. “Late ‘W’ withdrawals are reserved for those non-academic life circumstances that may intervene after two-thirds of the course is completed.”
Should the university withdraw from this new policy or is it a move in the right direction? Tweet us your take on the issue @RUTORCH