Don’t Drop the Drop Deadline

Faculty correct to maintain the present system, should also defend shopping period

Next Monday, the fifth Monday of the semester, will—like always—be the last day for students to add or drop a course without incurring a “withdraw” mark on their academic transcripts. Were it up to the students who attended last week’s Faculty Council meeting, however, this long-standing deadline would have a later date. During the meeting, students presented a proposal to move the deadline to drop classes to the seventh Monday of the semester. An extended drop period, they argued, would allow students to take more risks when registering for classes and make more informed drop decisions. This reasoning doesn’t hold up, however, as students can fairly ascertain their course’s environment within the current five week frame. Fortunately, the faculty committee rejected this proposal, maintaining the current drop deadline.

Though the Faculty Council is right to keep the current drop deadline, their reasoning in support of the decision unfairly generalizes the actions of a few students to the entire student body. Specifically, the Faculty Council claims that an extended drop period would encourage students to drop out of classes in which they were performing poorly, which would subsequently lead to grade inflation. But the costs of dropping out of classes—having to choose another class late in the term or taking on a heavier course load in a subsequent semester—is an adequate deterrent half-way through the semester for most students. Their suggestion of grade inflation as an unfortunate outcome of an add-drop system is a gratuitous jab at undergraduates, most of who utilize add-drop not to procure the best grades, but to obtain a more beneficial academic experience.

If there are students who choose to drop out for grade reasons—after performing poorly on a midterm, for example—it is likely that these students would not contribute much to grade inflation. Larger classes that have early midterms often also have pre-determined grade distributions. Because of their curves, these classes will award similar final grades regardless of whether students at the bottom of the distribution drop the class, and those students dropping will not contribute to grade inflation.

Students should be satisfied with the current deadline, and use their energy to fight against detrimental changes, like the proposed move to preregistration. And when it gets the chance, the Faculty should use sound reasoning and concern for students to rule against preregistration, preserving our current shopping period instead. By maintaining the drop deadline, the Faculty Council has rightfully established a precedent of defending our present, effective system of class selection, registration and add-drop deadlines.