Mythbusting the proposed academic policy change

Last week, Facebook was flooded with reactions from Muhlenberg students about several new proposed Academic Policy changes. As such, an understandable amount of confusion has arisen towards the actual content of these proposals.

On Wednesday, Mar. 22 at the weekly Student Government Association meeting, Curtis Dretsch, Chair of the Academic Policy Committee, and Kathy Harring, Provost, gave a presentation that shed light on the realities of the proposed policy changes.

The Policies Broken Down:
As the proposed amendment stands there would be 2-3 main changes to Muhlenberg’s academic policy. These changes are as follows:

  1. The current minimum amount of credits needed to graduate will drop from the current 34 to 32 credits. This would apply the class of 2021 and onward. No student currently at Muhlenberg would be affected by this change.

  2. Upon registration, students would only be able to (initially) register for 4.5 credits worth of course. After all class years have had the first opportunity to register, students could go back and add another course. Furthermore, the maximum amount of credits a student could take in a single semester (without petition) would still remain at 5.5, but a student would need to go back and add that course after preliminary registration was complete. It is unclear when this amendment would implemented, but both Harring and Dretsch suggested that it would be easy to integrate at any time.

  3. The dual degree program would be abolished. If the proposed amendment is passed the dual degree program will no longer be available to Muhlenberg students (please note that double majors are different, and this option is still available to students). This proposed amendment would apply to students in the class of 2022 and onward.

Quick Q+A:

What is the APC (or Academic Policy Committee)?
As described by Harring, “[the APC] committee is comprised of elected faculty members and two students.” They oversee the academic life at Muhlenberg.

What is the Curriculum Committee?
This Committee, as evident in the name, oversees the curriculum at Muhlenberg. All elements of the proposed amendment fall under their jurisdiction, and they are working with the APC. The Curriculum Committee also contains a student voice and input.

What brought on the proposed decreased number of credits necessary to graduate?
As described by Provost Harring: “The number of course credits required to graduate was already a topic of desired discussion for the committee. Most of the comparable institutions to Muhlenberg (ie Bucknell, Dickinson, F&M, etc…) have 32 unit graduation requirements, whereas we have 34. Many of [our students] are restricted in what units you can take beyond 34… Our Goal was to look at the situation and see if they want to stay there.”

Why is the registration process being altered? Why can I no longer sign up for 5.5 courses?
The registration process is being altered in order to accommodate a larger number of students. As any Muhlenberg student can attest, the registration process (as well as Capstone in general) is a stressful experience. Muhlenberg students can still take up to 5.5 credits per semester, but when registering for classes initially they can only register for a max. of 4.5. While this may be a bit of a drag the idea behind this change is to allow for a more “ fair and equable registration [process]” explained Harring.

Why is the Dual Degree Program being abolished? Can students still double major?
As highlighted by Dretsch: “institutions of our kind [liberal arts colleges] do not offer dual degrees. This is primarily present in research universities.” The Chair of the APC went on to describe the Dual Degree Program as “false advertising,” because it does not fit with the overall academic premise of a liberal arts institution. Both Dretsch and Harring were adamant that the Dual Degree Program has nothing to do with double majors. It also is different then programs like the Columbia Engineering program, which will remain in place.

Overall:

The integrity and character of the academic life of Muhlenberg will not be drastically changed if these policies are implemented. Instead, the policy changes would alter the process of how we do certain things (like registration), not the actual things themselves.

Final Reminders…

Most of these elements in the proposed policy changes would not apply to the students currently enrolled at the College. Please also note that all of the proposed policy changes are still under review, and further discussion within the committees will resume in April. The Weekly will continue to update students on any further developments to the policy.

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