By Emily Bruzzo, Staff Writer
Published in print Sept. 3, 2014
In the summer of 2013, the UNC Board of Governors passed a new academic standing and withdrawal policy that created waves of contention across the UNC system.
Since the policy’s enactment at the start of the Fall 2014 semester, students and faculty alike are attempting to gauge the potential impact of these changes on the academic experience at UNCG.
The new policy limits students to 16 credits of withdrawals over the course of their degrees. However, according to the Students First Office, withdrawal hours accrued prior to Fall 2014 do not count against students. Withdrawals made during the first five days of fall and spring terms and the first two days of summer sessions do not count either.
Students with extenuating circumstances can request exemption from the policy by submitting a Course Withdrawal Request through the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.
Additionally, a student’s academic standing is now contingent upon both GPA and Satisfactory Academic Progress. Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0. And they must earn 67 percent of their semester hours each term, as well as a minimum of 67 percent of the cumulative hours attempted over the course of their degree.
Though many students have not yet felt the effects of the new policies, Dr. Amy Williamsen, the Head of the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures feels “the new policy has created some problems that we have to find a way to solve.”
Williamsen first learned of the changes made to the academic standing and withdrawal policy at the start of the Fall 2013 semester and since then has been vocal about the negative effects it could have on students in the UNC system.
“I’m very concerned about the potential detrimental implications of this change,” Williamsen asserted, “but I do think that the intention was probably positive in that they wanted to discourage course or section shopping. And I can understand that. But my concern is that the course exploration that is so important— especially during the first years of a college career— is also being discouraged.”—Williamsen argues that language courses are particularly affected by the new policy and considering that many majors have language requirements, students should be aware of how this policy can affect them personally.
“It can take a while for students to get accurately placed,” Williamsen said of language courses. “Placement exams are not an exact science and it can take awhile for students to determine what they can and cannot handle.”
“In languages we’ve always encouraged students to stay and try, even if they are struggling at the beginning because eventually it will click for them,” Williamsen said. “But we don’t have that luxury now and students need to be aware of that.”
Williamsen and her colleagues attempted to curb the potential withdrawal issues by making sure that switching language sections within the same language would not count against students under the new policy.
Williamsen is also concerned for students who face learning challenges, citing the threat the new policy poses to modified learning programs in courses such as Spanish.
Modified programs use pedagogical methods that have been adjusted to help students who have learning challenges. Williamsen argues these classes do not fully populate until students realize they need them, which can take awhile, making the new policy a problem.
As to other efforts on UNCG’s campus to handle these new policy changes, Dr. Spoma Jovanovic, the Chair of the Faculty Senate, says that the Faculty Senate began discussions last December.
“We recognized the potential problems,” Jovanovic wrote in an email, “and endorsed with a resolution what the Faculty Assembly [faculty from all UNC campuses] urged: to collect data so that if there is a negative impact from the policies as we recognize could happen, we could argue to “opt” out of the centralized demand.”
Jovanovic also said that the Faculty Senate has the right to hear appeals to these new policies. “That’s something,” Jovanovic asserts, “not a lot, but something.”