On February 10, the Provost’s Office informed the student body of the faculty’s recent decision to extend the add/drop period for the Spring 2021 semester. According to the email, the last day to drop a course will be Friday, April 16 and the last day to add a course will be Feb. 24. The final deadline for both adding and dropping classes was initially Feb. 17, which left students only one week to add a new class to their schedule and to withdraw from any courses for which they had already signed up.In previous years, ausual semester had an add/drop window for two weeks, and the extension plan was created to give students the same flexibility they usually receive.
The extension plan was first conceptualized by Student Government Organization members as early as October 2020, with the goal of making the beginning of the second semester easier for students and giving them a period of flexibility before schedules were cemented.
“This [proposal idea] had originally come to us after we started reflecting on our experience [of] the Fall semester … The recommended course load was only three credits which was one credit less than it usually is, and we were anticipating what it would look like in the spring when the recommended course load goes to four,” said SGO President Murtaza Ukani ’22.
To make the transition in terms of both workload and environment easier for students, SGO proposed a one-week extension to the original add/drop period. Ukani spoke to The Phoenix about the route the proposal took from SGO’s drawing board to reaching the Council on Educational Policy, a committee that largely deals with changes in the curriculum, a process that really began in an official capacity in December 2020.
“It was early December when we brought [the proposal] to the Dean of Students just to talk through the reasoning behind [it] … When the college was back up and running in early January, the proposal was officially sent to the Provost and CEP for them to discuss it,” said Ukani.
In an email to The Phoenix, Provost Sarah Willie-LeBreton wrote of the process to pass the proposal and its journey from SGO to the faculty.
“[The] CEP deemed the proposal to be clear and compelling and benefitted from the insights of the students who joined our conversation about it,” wrote Willie-LeBreton. “CEP then asked the Committee on Faculty Procedures for guidance on next steps, and COFP determined to call a Faculty Meeting.”
According to both Ukani and Willie-LeBreton, the process to pass the proposal was quick once it was in the hands of the faculty, and a meeting was called specifically for the discussion of the proposal.
Ukani said that SGO was initially unsure what to put in their proposal and afraid to ask for more time than they believed faculty would grant. Initially, the proposal was a request for merely an extension of the add-drop period to two weeks, in case students needed to drop courses they found to be too difficult or to help those who might have over-enrolled. During the faculty meeting, faculty members themselves expanded the proposal beyond two weeks and gave students further leeway.
“At the Faculty Meeting, CEP recommended the proposal to the faculty. An amendment was made from the floor of the faculty meeting to extend the drop period further than the original proposal. The faculty approved the amendment and then approved the amended proposal by a majority vote,” wrote Dean Willie-LeBreton.
SGO Vice President Gabriella Vetter ’22 reflected on the positive effects that the add/drop extension will have on students, including herself.
“I think [the extension]’s going to be extremely beneficial, especially to me personally, trying to navigate going from three classes back to four credits and then trying to get back into the swing of things. Especially after J-Term, everything’s just so weird,” Vetter said. “Having that security and knowing that I have the ability to drop a class four weeks in if I feel like I’m in over my head is really comforting.”
Molly Erdman l’23 agreed with Vetter, emphasizing how long it takes to determine if a class is a good fit.
“I think it can be hard to get a good sense of what a class will be like after only two or three classes,” Erdman said. “Extending the [add/drop] deadline gives [students] the ability to make a well-informed decision about whether or not to drop a class.”
The extension of the add period gives students a chance to join classes for which they were originally on the waitlist, and the drop period allows a safety net for students as far as nine weeks into the semester.