Reverse Latin Honors Policy Change

This petition made change with 241 supporters!

MICA Unfair in Implementing Policy Change

Hey peers! We're Marisa Quin (GFA '15) and Estelle Kline (Photo '15) and we're here to circulate this petition to draw attention to the lack of conversation surrounding the wants of students before the administration adjusted the latin honors standards in 2013. (Cum Laude 3.50 to 3.70; Magna Cum Laude 3.75 to 3.80; and Summa Cum Laude 3.85 to 3.90). Our goal is to hopefully reverse this policy change for the class of 2015 and 2016.

It's just not fair policy implementation. Imagine showing up to buy $3 gallon of milk with a $5 and being told it's now $6. If you would like to discuss this further, we will be at the next SVA meeting April 2nd, 12pm in Main 160, and attempt to have an open conversation on this issue, unlike the one denied from the MICA student body when this was decided.


How are Duke, Brandeis, Carleton College, Georgetown, University of Massachusetts, Baruch College and Northeastern University different from MICA?  Most obvious, they are not art schools.  They are, however, well-known and well-respected colleges and universities and they all have taken a significantly different path from MICA in implementing changes to their school policies for granting “Latin Honors.”  

“Latin Honors” are the designations received at graduation (Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Summa Cum Laude) based on a student’s final cumulative GPA.  In November, 2013, MICA announced that, effective in the Fall of 2014, it was revising the criteria for achieving Latin Honors by increasing the GPA required for each of the three levels (Cum Laude 3.50 to 3.70; Magna Cum Laude 3.75 to 3.80; and Summa Cum Laude 3.85 to 3.90).  Despite only having been announced in the last academic year, these changes are being applied to this academic year’s graduating class and to the graduating class in 2016.

 The reason articulated most frequently for changes in Latin Honors’ criteria is the need to address grade inflation, and MICA’s notice on its change implies the same.  The distinction between the other schools that have changed their Latin Honors policies and MICA, however, is in how the changes were implemented.  All of these other well-respected colleges and universities applied some form of grandfathering to their application of the change.  “Grandfathering” in this instance refers to the act of protecting students who were enrolled under one set of graduation criteria from being subjected to changes to those criteria that are made prior to their graduation. 

 All but one of the other colleges and universities changed their Latin Honors criteria, but did not apply the changes to the then attending student body.  With the exception of Georgetown, the students who enrolled under a specific set of Latin Honors criteria were allowed to graduate under the same criteria.  The primary reason given for this treatment is fairness.  According to a Northeastern official:  "It does make sense, in fairness, that whatever the policy was when they entered should be the one they graduate with, assuming they graduate on time."  Similarly, when contemplating changes to the Latin Honors policy at Carleton College, an official on the committee noted:  "Just to clarify, the changes made are not going to affect currently enrolled Carleton students.  We don't make changes in curricular policy while students are in the middle of getting their degree."

 There was one exception in this group of schools, and that exception is worth noting because its timeline is similar to MICA’s.  Georgetown announced the change to its Latin Honors policy in January, 2014, which was just two months after MICA announced its change.  Unlike MICA, however, Georgetown’s policy went into effect for the Class of 2017.  This means only the Freshman (who had been in school a single semester) were going to be impacted by the change.  In contrast, MICA is applying its Latin Honors change to students who were Freshman, Sophomores and Juniors – who were almost half way through their Junior year – when the policy change was announced.

 No doubt, MICA can find examples of colleges that revised their Latin Honors criteria without grandfathering their current students.  But why follow the example of schools that treated their students the worst?  Why not, instead, aspire to be in the class of schools who value the concept of fairness?  Why then did MICA reject the concept of grandfathering?  This is a good question and one for which a response has evaded concerned students. 

 The question regarding grandfathering was posed to both Provost Ray Allen and President Samuel Hoi and responses were received in a series of recent emails.  According to Provost Allen, MICA's actions are acceptable because students were provided notice of the change.  Indeed, as referenced, a notice was sent out on November 13, 2013, providing that the changes would go into effect the next academic year.  Notice, however, is not the issue. The issue is grandfathering in the interest of fairness. President Hoi also did not address the issue of grandfathering and noted that as new president, he could find no basis or rationale for reversing the earlier decision.

 The basis or rationale for reversal seems obvious.  It does not appear that the interests of the students in the classes of 2015 and 2016 were adequately considered in the fall of 2013, and they certainly were not adequately protected, when the decision was made.  Absent some truly extenuating circumstance, fairness dictates that a significant policy change such as this should only be applied to prospective students – or, at the very least, like Georgetown, to new Freshman, only.

 How are Duke, Brandeis, Carleton College, Georgetown, University of Massachusetts, Baruch College and Northeastern University different from MICA?  They place a value on the fair treatment of their students.  MICA?  Apparently, not so much.

 If you agree that MICA should grandfather the Classes of 2015 and 2016 and not apply the new Latin Honors criteria to these Classes, let your voice be heard by the administration.  Since no GPAs are finalized for either of these Classes, it is not too late for MICA to do the right thing. 

 Come to the Student Voice Association meeting April 2nd, 12pm in Leake Lecture hall to have your voice heard! 




The (Georgetown) Hoya, “For Freshman, Bar Raised for Honors” (January 14, 2014)

News@Northeastern, “Faculty Senate focuses on new ‘Latin’ honors requirements” (February 27, 2014)

Brandeis Hoot:  “Changes to Latin honors announced” (April 1, 2011)

The Carleton:  News, “Latin Honors Program Being Reworked” (November 12, 2010)

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