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Friday January 22nd

System scrutinizes drop-add policy

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The UNC-system Board of Governors will vote on a proposal today that would limit the drop-add period at system campuses to 10 class days — despite opposition from chancellors and students.

The board’s educational planning, policies and programs committee approved the proposal Thursday for all system schools. UNC-CH currently allows students to drop courses well after the first 10 business days of the semester, as long as they obtain a form and have it signed by their dean or academic adviser before the end of the eighth week of classes.

UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp and N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson urged board members to consider the consequences of the proposed change, especially for students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“If you are in that classroom at Chapel Hill, you’ve got some students that went to Phillips Exeter, some that went to Enloe (Magnet High School), and you got some that went to Warren County (High School),” Thorp said.

“The one from Warren County, if it takes her more than one try — it means that is not a bad thing.”

Committee member James Deal said he thought “grade shopping,” where students try out a class and drop it after the midterm, might be preventing other students from gaining a seat in the class.

But Woodson said that very few students — 3 percent at NCSU and 1 percent at UNC-CH — actually drop the class by the end of the period.

UNC-Charlotte Provost Joan Lorden, who presented the proposal to the board, said students who drop a course late in the semester should have a “W,” for withdrawal, marked on their transcripts to encourage them not to drop courses lightly.

But Thorp disagreed.

“Asking people to assess a ‘W’ on their transcript while they are at a selective university like ours, where we are trying to give lots of different people a fair chance, does not seem right,” he said. “I hope you will exclude this part (from the proposal),” he said.

Both chancellors and student body presidents said they believe the new policy will adversely affect students’ intellectual curiosity.

Andy Walsh, NCSU student body president, said students might decide not to try more difficult courses taught by the university’s best professors.

And Thorp said the proposal is out of the board’s purview.

“I think that this is a campus matter that should be determined by the faculty on the campus,” he said.

Hannah Gage, chairwoman of the committee, said system President Thomas Ross would likely hold a meeting Thursday with Thorp and Woodson to discuss the implications of the proposed change before a final decision is made.

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