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2011 Spring Issue 4 (April 29, 2011)

ECC to make major changes to S/Cr/NC policy and dates

April 29, 2011
By Nick Bellos and Libby Isenstein

“Scrunching” that Orgo class might be a little different in the coming years, thanks to some changes the Education and Curriculum Committee voted on this Wednesday.

According to Patrick Burke ’14, Senate liaison to the ECC, the committee has decided to move the deadline to designate a class “pass/fail” by 7th week, instead of the last day of classes, as it is now. Students will no longer have to “pre-scrunch” classes, but professors will have to sign the forms for students scrunching their classes.

Professor George Shuffleton said that the faculty had long complained about the effects of the current policy on student behavior and faculty workloads.

Moving the deadline up to the 7th week is intended to reduce professors’ workload by allowing them to focus more on the students that are taking their class for a grade. Burke said the new policy about faculty signatures is meant to encourage discussion before a student decides to take the class ungraded. Burke said professors would always sign the form.


The ECC believes that the purpose of the S/Cr/NC option is “to encourage academic exploration in areas where students aren’t necessarily comfortable,” Burke said.

The discussions about the changes have been going on all year, but the talks only yielded results this week.

Most liberal arts colleges have “pass/fail” policies, but according to Shuffleton, Carleton’s is distinct from other colleges. Shuffleton explained that the two-step process of pre-scrunching then activating the scrunch, the end-of-term deadline, and the “blind” nature of the process in which faculty do not know students’ decisions until after grades are submitted, distinguished Carleton from most colleges. Carleton’s current S/Cr/NC policy has been in place since the 1980s.
The comparison with other schools did not drive the ECC’s discussion, though.

Although the ECC has made its final vote, the changes are not imminent. The faculty must approve all significant changes to academic regulations and procedures. According to Shuffleton, the faculty will likely address the proposed reforms to the S/Cr/NC and late drop policies in the fall. The earliest the reforms could be implemented would be fall term of 2012.
The ECC wasn’t the only decision-making body that met this week to discuss the changes to the “pass/fail” process. On Monday the CSA passed a resolution voicing its concerns about the policy.

“Students feel more comfortable taking classes outside of their major because they have the option to fall back on that scrunch,” said Rebecca Gourevitch ’12, College Council Liaison. “And they know that option can be exercised on the last day of classes. Moving [the deadline] is the part that concerns us most.”

She added, “We really understand where the professors are coming from. We don’t want this to become a students vs. professors issue.”

While there is no procedural action students can take, Junior Class Representative Ben Somogyi stressed that there is still plenty for students to do.

“Students can voice their opinions to professors, senators, and members of the ECC.”

Professor Shuffleton and other members of the ECC will address the CSA during this Monday’s meeting to discuss the approved changes to the S/Cr/NC policy.

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