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Reform UTRGV's Add/Drop Policy

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UTRGV University Registrar

 

Dear Mrs. Sofia Montes, M.Ed.,


We, the Graduate and Undergraduate student body of the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley want express our disapproval of UTRGV’s current Add/Drop Policy. We want to work with you to develop a new policy that benefits both the interests of the University Registrar as well as the University Student Body.


Your current policy requires us, the student body, to pick our courses for the semester based off of a paragraph-long course description and, on rare occasion, a class syllabus provided by the professor. Syllabi are usually distributed to us by our professors on the first day of class. Next, you ask for full payment of classes a week before classes start, and a final deadline for payment on the Friday of the first week. You offer a 100% refund for classes up until the first day of class. Starting Tuesday of the first week of class, you drop our tuition refund to 80%. After the second Tuesday of class, you keep another 10% and drop our refund to 70% of tuition. After the third Tuesday, you keep an additional 20% and drop our refund to 50% of tuition. After the fourth Tuesday, you keep an additional 25%, and drop our refund to 25% of tuition.


This policy puts a tremendous amount of both financial and mental pressure on the entire student body. Us students who work to pay our tuition see our endowed institution penalizing us and keeping our hard-earned money for deciding that another course would be more enriching for our education. Us students who have received scholarships from your institution, we see you keeping a portion of our funds in fees, when they were supposed to be an investment to further our education. Then there are us students who fall victim to university logistical issues and get penalized with a fee in the process. This Spring, there was a case of a student, a ninth-grade science teacher looking to enrich her material for her high schoolers by advancing her own academic horizon at UTRGV. This student followed your current policy, paid for her classes on time, but noticed that no update was given to her about one of her courses. She proceeded to call various UTRGV departments to get information on the course she had enrolled in, and the response she got was that the university did not find a professor to lead the course, and instructed her to drop her course. The student proceeded to drop her course, but because of your policy, your department withheld 20% of her payment, and she only received an 80% refund for her canceled course. Furthermore, this student lost her teaching enrichment grant because after she was forced to drop her course, she was not enrolled in enough course hours to qualify for the grant. We will not stand for this policy.


As a university, your ultimate mission is the advancement and enrichment of the students that come through your halls. And we can understand your rationale for including this policy in your matriculation process is to encourage student enrollment retention in courses. However, your policy is instead creating additional pressure and financial stress for us students. We do not want our registrar to fine us for changing our mind once we encounter more information regarding the class. The purpose of education is to change minds with the presentation of evidence, and your policy contradicts this idea. Instead, we propose that you work with us, the student body, to design a policy that both achieves the goals that you have as University Registrar and fosters the growth of the entire student body.


For my undergraduate studies, I was fortunate enough to attend Harvard University, and I am mentioning this to you because we want you to consider the matriculation policy I experienced first-hand as a student as we work together to craft a new policy for UTRGV. At Harvard, we sign up for our courses months before the first day of class, just like at UTRGV; however, the first week of class is advertised by the office of the registrar as “shopping week.” During “shopping week” students are encouraged to visit as many classes in their departments and beyond, so that they have the opportunity to:

 

  • Explore interdisciplinary approaches and perspectives that enrich and broaden our education experience.
  • Get a clear idea in their mind of what information the course will cover and the works  that we will produce over the semester.
  • Make sure that the professor’s style of teaching matches our style of learning.
  • To the benefit of the registrar, get more exposure for new courses that might otherwise have low enrollment because of the lack of information on the course by inviting students in the classroom to experience the course first-hand.

 

The second week of classes is when we were asked to turn in our registration forms for the semester. In courses that required a lottery or an interview in the registration process, instructors would notify students of their position in the course in the beginning of the second week of class at the latest, giving students who did not get accepted into courses ample time to find another course to register in. Students may add a course until the fifth Monday of the term with the permission of the instructor. Students may drop a course from their record only until the fifth Monday of the term. Students are not charged for any adding or dropping until the third Monday of the term. Between the third Monday and the fifth Monday of the term, all students pay a $10 fee for adding or dropping courses.


We, the study body of UTRGV, want to work with you to create a new policy tailored to UTRGV that, like the Harvard Add/Drop Policy, celebrates making well-informed life altering decisions, promotes interdisciplinary problem solving approaches, and does not put a heavy financial stress on us students. Furthermore, we, the student body, are asking the Office of the Registrar to refund students for the percentages of tuition withheld by the current Add/Drop Policy in accordance with the new matriculation policy we develop together. My name is Ricardo Alberto Ramirez Garcia-Rojas, I am a Master’s student in your Agriculture, Environment, and Sustainability Sciences program. On behalf of of the UTRGV student body, I am the main contact for this effort to work together  develop our school’s policy. You can reach me at ricardo.ramirezgarciarojas01@utrgv.edu. Please do let us know when you would have some time to meet to discuss moving forward in creating a new, better Add/Drop Policy for UTRGV.


Thank you very much for your time, we truly look forward to meeting with you.


Sincerely,


UTRGV Student Body



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