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September 29, 2023

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Withdraw fail no longer option for classes

The University has changed its policy regarding withdraw failing from a class, making it either a withdraw or a fail.

This past semester, if a student withdrew from a class with a failing grade, the instructor or professor could issue them a withdraw fail. This semester, they no longer have that option.

Currently, if a student chooses to withdraw from a class before the 12th week, then it won’t harm their GPA. If they withdraw after, they will receive a fail, not a withdraw fail.

“That allows the students to get out of a course if they don’t feel like they’re going to be successful with just a W on their transcript.” said Sue Houston, vice provost at the University. “There was not a lot of consistency across campus as to what constituted a W or WF. In general, there were feelings that students were suffering under that policy.”

Peter Vanderhart, a professor of economics at the University, also noticed the lack of consistency in the old policy and said some found disparity between instructors who would give withdraw fails and those who would sign withdraw forms without taking student performance into account.

“That seems unfair from some perspectives,” Vanderhart said. “Some people thought that was a little lax, letting [students] screw around and you let them bail.”

Junior Sarah Murilla thinks the change is a good idea.

“I think having the option of withdrawing and not having an F added to your GPA is good,” Murilla said. “It’ll add to the status of our school because then people aren’t being punished for withdrawing when they know they’re doing poorly.”

Vanderhart said he was initially wary of the new policy but accepted it after thinking of classes as being like hurdles.

“You can kind of view classes as hurdles,” Vanderhart said. “Hurdles that students have to prove they can jump over. And maybe they aren’t able to jump over them quite yet.”

Vanderhart said as long as the hurdles aren’t lowered, the standard isn’t lowered.

Houston said keeping academic policy up to date and changing is good, and mentioned some revisions she would like to see.

“It’s always a good thing that you look at and revisit your policies on a periodic basis,” Houston said. “Circumstances do change over time. I think that there are some policies that we need to look at in terms of students changing from one college to another. For university policy, it shouldn’t matter what college you’re in, there should be a fairly consistent way in which students experience those [policies].”

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