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Claybaugh Invites Student Involvement in Undergraduate Education Decisions

Sruthi Palaniappan ’20 leads an Undergraduate Council Town Hall meeting to discuss the future of shopping week with students.
Sruthi Palaniappan ’20 leads an Undergraduate Council Town Hall meeting to discuss the future of shopping week with students. By Awnit Singh Marta
By Jamie D. Halper, Crimson Staff Writer

In the wake of the College’s first listening session about the fate of shopping week, Dean of Undergraduate Education Amanda J. Claybaugh emailed College students Monday to address concerns about student involvement in her office’s decisions more broadly.

“While listening to students discuss their experiences of shopping period, we also heard some students say that they felt excluded from decisions being made about undergraduate education more generally,” Claybaugh wrote. “Going forward, I'm committed to communicating with you often and more directly—and I invite you to share your thoughts about how we might work together to ensure that your education is the very best it can be.”

The listening sessions, meant to collect student feedback on the possibility of eliminating shopping week — a Harvard scheduling quirk where undergraduates are allowed to try out numerous classes each semester before finalizing their schedules — started last week following student outcry agains the potential change.

The Undergraduate Council originally planned to host a town hall about shopping week, but Claybaugh announced last week that the Office of Undergraduate Education would instead host three administrator-led events for students to share their thoughts. Members of a recently formed committee tasked with considering alternatives to Shopping Week are slated to attend each session

Prior to the listening sessions, the Undergraduate Council held a student organizing meeting to strategize ways to reach administrators with their concerns. Not everyone, however, is so committed to maintaining the tradition — many faculty and graduate student teaching fellows have raised concerns how about how shopping week causes uncertainty in scheduling and course planning.

After Thursday’s event in Quincy House, where Claybaugh said students raised concerns about their involvement in decisions coming down from her office, she wrote in her email that she has asked Professor Bernhard Nickel, the chair of the faculty committee, to update students on what it learns in the sessions.

“In the meantime, my office will find additional ways to solicit your thoughts, and we will continue to update you about the process,” Claybaugh wrote.

—Staff writer Jamie D. Halper can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @jamiedhalper

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