Instead of party hopping in their dorms last night to steal Doritos and participate in “intellectual” discussions of the commercials, the dutiful members of CCSC kept on trucking with their weekly Sunday night meeting. Even more dutiful Bwog staffer Joe Milholland is here to report.
On the afternoon of Super Bowl Sunday – or, as CCSC President Peter Bailinson also calls it, “Katy Perry Sunday” – the Columbia College Student Council had a general body meeting where they talked about a proposal to push the drop deadline back.
Currently, CC students can drop a class for five weeks after the first class. Because many students do not get substantial assignments before this date, the council wants the administration push the deadline to seven weeks after the first class.
Academic Affairs Rep Grayson Warrick has been talking to Dean of Academic Affairs Kathryn Yatrakis about this proposal and its history. Extending the drop deadline has been talked about for a long time and has often had the issue of professor opposition to it. Professors have opposed extending the drop deadline because they want as many students as possible in their classes.
An online survey by Warrick found that around 75% of those surveyed had dropped a class, with reasons including GPA concerns, health/wellness, and other academic reasons. The survey also found that 77.1% of those surveyed would be willing to trade a longer drop deadline period for a shorter pass-D-fail period, although Warrick admitted the question lacked specifics and the way it was asked was not ideal.
The council will submit first the proposal with the request of an extended drop deadline. The document the council examined at the meeting also had three possible addendums as compromises if administrators reject the initial proposal: to shorten the Pass-D-Fail period, to require a meeting with a CSA advisor if a student wants to drop a class after the add period, or to impose a small fee for dropping a class in the new two-week window.
After discussing the proposal, the council firmly rejected the idea of imposing a fee for late class dropping, although Harvard and Princeton have fees of $10 and $40 respectively for late class dropping. In a straw poll, most council members preferred negotiating with a required CSA rather than changing the P-D-F deadline.
The council also discussed whether the two week increase was arbitrary and whether a time frame with a specific justification would be a better fix.
Since the Committee on Instruction, who will look at the proposal, works slowly does not meet often, according to VP of Policy Sejal Singh, Warrick will likely have a proposal for the council vote on the proposal next week.
- Singh and VP of Policy Abby Porter are looking at food insecurity (being unable to afford regular meals) on campus, an problem which can affect students for a number of reasons, such as the high cost of textbooks. The new EVP of University Life, Suzanne Goldberg, has expressed an interest in working in this area.
- President Bailinson has secured more outlets at Joe’s and is looking into student group discounts with Vice President for Campus Services Scott Wright.
- There is a new student representative on the Committee for Socially Responsible Investment.
- The new director of CUIT will be announced soon. University Senator Jared Oddesky is excited to work with him. One thing to look forward to from CUIT in the future is a single access point to easily find administrative data.
CCSC votes the halftime show via Shutterstock
@Prof The reason professors generally object to a later drop deadline is not, as Bwog asserts, “because they want as many students as possible in their classes.” It is rather that they want committed students in their classes. What they definitely do not want is people who are shopping for two months, on the fence about whether they truly want to take the class and commit to its workload. How is a professor to run a meaningful and substantive class when its composition fluctuates from week to week for half of the semester?
I also don’t believe that “many students do not get substantial assignments before this date [the fifth week of the semester]” in their classes. What is likely truer is that students don’t get graded assignments back by then (papers, exams, etc.), but that is fairly normal — as many classes only have one or two papers and one or two exams for the entire semester. It sounds to me that what Columbia undergraduates are objecting to is the possibility of not knowing their grades at a point in time where they have to commit to the particular class. But deal with it — that’s called life. We can’t all always know everything we want to know, and we can’t all always drop a class just because we’re not getting an A in it — again, that’s called life.
The fifth week of the semester is already very generous for a drop deadline; just look at other institutions, where you’re typically locked into your schedule after two weeks. And the upside of this is that you finalize your schedule early on, commit to your classes, and figure out a way to do fine in them even if they aren’t quite what you expected or you don’t absolutely love the professor (or his/her grading). Again, this is how life works.
@You Don't Understand We need to understand if profs are going to be unfair graders, as this could have a dramatic impact on the GPA of a premed or prelaw student.
For instance, if a professor views the grade of B+ as the result of true excellence and is comfortable handing out C’s for perfectly acceptable work, then I would be forced to drop the class due to unfair grading policy.
Professors aren’t forthcoming with what actually qualifies as an A or B, and Columbia professors aren’t known to be particularly understanding people.
Perhaps instead a required grade distribution for papers should be instituted, then we would know that professors would actually grade fairly.
@Prof OK, so you want a “fair” grade distribution? How would you define “fair”? Would a bell curve (normal) distribution be fair?
In a normal distribution, 68% of a class would get a C-range grade, 14% would get Ds, 14% would get Bs and 2% each would get an F or an A. Is that what you’re hoping for?
I can assure you that Columbia professors do not generally grade with a normal distribution in mind — the average grade at Columbia, in the year 2015, is definitely not a C. But if you go back four or five decades, it was. This is called grade inflation, where anything less than an A is thought by some students to signify failure.
Look at the back of a Columbia transcript and you’ll see that an A means “excellent,” a B means “good,” a C means “fair,” a D means “poor,” and an F means “failing.” By definition, we can’t all be above average (unless, of course, you live in Lake Wobegon).
@hmmm The normality of a distribution does not imply a particular mean value. In fact the grades of many classes are normally distributed, but usually the mean is set closer to common contemporary beliefs of what constitutes “average.”
I can’t disagree with you that it is higher than several decades ago. I would disagree with you on your last comment, however. Certainly we are not all “above average” in any sense. But on the whole, the Columbia community is decidedly extraordinary in most respects, and hardly average in any sense at all. In my belief it would and often does, adversely impede the educational atmosphere, to focus unduly on categorizing people as comparatively inferior, within this already highly selective grouping.
@CC15 The real issue with this comment is its explicit recognition that students decide whether or not to take class based on what grade they believe they will achieve. Any initiative to delay the drop deadline would only encourage more students to decide their schedule based on their anticipated grades, and I firmly believe that would be a mistake.
There are dozens of reasons to stop caring about your GPA in college — the value of stepping outside your comfort zone, the fact that many employers don’t really t give a shit, etc. Between the five-week mark and the seven-week mark, anyone who has decided they hate a professor, they hate a subject, or that they are unprepared for the course has already dropped. We can’t give people more excuses to quit classes at Columbia simply because they’re worried about their GPAs.
@hmmm I certainly agree with you that students should try to step out of their “comfort zones.” I believe this precisely is what the lengthy drop period and the P/D/F policy facilitates– more opportunity for students to test themselves beyond what they would otherwise would. The reality is that many are grade-conscious, and certainly many employers and universities fall into this category. I agree with you that grades are not the most important part of the learning process. Better therefore to have policies that allow students, for a greater length of time, to focus on what is indeed more important– learning– and learning in the process about what they are capable of doing.
@hmmm Oh dear. “Would otherwise would.” You know what I meant/