Processing petitions — New add, drop deadlines raise petition averages for first seven weeks
The new Aug. 31 deadline to add or drop classes threw the entire university for a loop — especially the University of Idaho Academic Petitions Committee, said Becky Tallent, committee chair.
The group processed 193 petitions in the first seven weeks of the semester. Of the 193 petitions, there were 93 cases to add a class and 23 to drop a class after the deadline. The average for this time of year is typically 75 to 80 petitions, according to a report Tallent presented to the Faculty Senate.
Tallent said it was a “perfect storm” situation.
“You had the deadline happening on the Friday people were leaving for Labor Day, and there were a lot of students unaware of the deadline that was truly much earlier than normal,” Tallent said. “It was just bizarre in so many ways.”
Students petition for a number of reasons. Some wish to return to school, while others look to add — or withdraw from — a class after the deadline.
UI registrar Nancy Krogh said the increase in petitions was expected, and this is one of the most publicized date changes the registrar’s office has had.
“When you make a change to something at the university, it takes a little while for everybody to know this has changed,” she said.
Krogh said her office put signs up about the changed deadlines, had table tents, emailed students, put notifications on VandalWeb, enlisted the help of student accounts and communicated with faculty members and advisers.
“We tried to be everywhere with it because we knew this was important for people to know,” she said.
Tallent said the registrar’s office did everything it could, but the timing of the change is what might have affected petition numbers.
“It’s a new semester — fall semester — and let’s face it, people’s heads aren’t always in the game early on,” she said.
Krogh said there’s been discussion on campus about shortening the add/drop deadline for more than three years, but the decision was finalized last spring. In order for the policy to pass, it first went to the University Curriculum Committee, then through the Faculty Senate and was approved by the faculty.
Krogh said the idea behind the new deadline is to allow students to take care of adding or dropping courses online.
The policy states students can add a class online for up to six days into the semester. Instructor permission is required day six through 10, and students must petition from then on.
“Faculty felt strongly about it because they thought students should not be able to add a course later than that in the term without special permission because it’s hard to catch up,” Krogh said.
She said the university faculty governance agreed the sooner students are committed to the courses they need for the semester, the better off they are.
“For students to be shopping for a course two weeks into the term is not a good thing,” Krogh said.
One person in every college is responsible for handling petitions. If a student wishes to petition, they approach that person, who then gathers all the necessary information to present to the committee.
“Let’s say the person from CLASS (College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences) brings in 10 petitions,” she said. “They would go through each one and say ‘this student would like to do this and here’s the reason why.’”
The committee listens, deliberates and makes its decision. Tallent said split votes are common because members sometimes feel as though they need more information.
The Academic Petitions Committee meets every Thursday, and Tallent said the group feels rushed this semester because it’s difficult to consider 60 plus petitions in two-and-a-half hours.
“I don’t think we made any bad decisions, but we would have liked to have been able to chew it around and discuss it a little bit more — make sure that we covered all the angles,” Tallent said. “And if we erred, we erred on the side of caution.”
The registrar’s office is confident the number of petitions will decrease slightly in the spring, and decrease significantly next fall, Krogh said.
Tallent said she encourages students to make changes in their schedules early on.
“First of all, it costs you $10 to take something up through petitions,” she said. “Save yourself the 10 bucks. If you know you’re going to make a change to your schedule, don’t wait — do it sooner rather than later.”
Britt Kiser can be reached at email@example.com