Return Drop Date Without a “W” to after Midterms

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Beginning in Fall 2020, the course ‘drop date without a W’ will be bumped up nearly three months earlier than in previous years, as The Commentator reported. This means, in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 — and all future semesters, too — students will only have four weeks into a semester to freely add or drop courses, compared to the almost four-month period previously afforded to us.

Fall 2020’s drop date has been set for Sept. 22, and Spring 2021’s drop date has been set for Feb. 15. There are several issues with this policy change and the manner in which it was done.

1) First and foremost, this change was made without ANY consultation with student leaders, and if not for The Commentator reporting on this, we would not even know about this drastic change, as no one from YU bothered to inform us. Although the changes can be seen on the university’s undergraduate academic calendar, no public statement was released to the students notifying them. Lack of communication on this — even to this very day — on a matter so critical to students’ academic experience in YU is inexcusable.

2) In Fall 2018, our drop date ‘without a W’ was Dec. 11, and in Fall 2019, our drop date ‘without a W’ was Dec. 2; Fall 2020 is Sept. 22. Those former deadlines, and the many years before them, were set after midterms. This new date precedes midterms by over a month. That flexibility afforded students the comfort of adjusting their schedules and course loads as they felt necessary, allowing them to get a full perspective of a class before deciding if they wanted or needed to drop it. However, this is not possible with the current date.

3) We are in a time of much uncertainty and stress due to COVID-19. YU has not even released an official course of action for returning to campus, whether or not the P/N policy will stay in play, or what we can expect for next year. This is not the time for YU to be experimenting with such enormous changes.

4) Several Student Council Presidents were unsettled by Chief Enrollment Management Officer Chad Austein’s ambiguity and indirectness regarding actually considering the concerns they outline in their email. His justification for the policy change was that, when making the 2020-21 academic calendar, the designated committee of deans’ advisors and registrars “incorporated an update to the withdrawal policy and timeline to be consistent with other colleges and universities.” He did not specify which universities he was speaking about, whether or not they ALL have a four-week deadline, why it was necessary to align with their timelines, how much “wiggle room” YU had to work with, and so on.

We ask that YU immediately halt these changes and return the calendar’s course-dropping deadlines to be consistent with prior years; especially with the uncertainty of COVID-19, such a change can have serious and highly detrimental consequences. If YU does, in fact, need to change their calendar drop dates, then that is a conversation that should be taken with the consideration of students’ voices and not behind closed doors.