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Faculty To Vote on Elimination of Pre-Term Planning

The College will no longer conduct pre-term course planning if members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences vote in favor of proposed changes to the student handbook at their monthly meeting on Tuesday.

Pre-term planning for the coming fall semester is already temporarily suspended as necessitated by the rollout of a new Student Information System in the fall because there will be no means to run the tool, according to Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris. Making this change permanent will require a Faculty vote, he wrote in an email.

Faculty, students, and administrators have long debated the purpose of pre-term planning, which requires undergraduates to indicate in which classes they intend to enroll in the following semester, though their choices are not binding.

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Many students and faculty say the tool—implemented in 2010 as a means of offering College administrators guidance in hiring teaching fellows and assigning classrooms—often gives imprecise data about course enrollments.

Since its inception, pre-term planning has been a frequent topic of discussion among members of the Committee on Undergraduate Education, who have similarly criticized the tool for not giving faculty members an accurate sense of their courses’ enrollments. Many faculty have said that they have needed to hold unanticipated lotteries to determine who would enroll in their courses.

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In September, Women, Gender, and Sexuality lecturer Caroline Light said she estimated 150 students shopped her seminar class, which was only designed for 12 students.

Harris wrote in an email that he sees no reason to keep pre-term planning in place, and that the new Student Information System to be rolled out in the fall would not be able to accommodate the tool.

“We are doing away with it now,” Harris wrote. “The new SIS is not ready for it, and as it provides little useful additional information to historical and Q data...there seems to be no reason to keep it.”

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana will present the proposed removal of pre-term planning, along with other changes to the student handbook’s language, at the FAS faculty meeting Tuesday, including the elimination of a final examination policy that stipulates that students may not leave the examination room for the first 30 minutes of a test.

The Faculty will also vote on proposed legislation for an affirmation of integrity to the College’s first-ever honor code and on plans for the structure of a new concentration in Theater, Dance, and Media.

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at meg.bernhard@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @Meg_Bernhard.

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