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New D and F policy yields results

A harsher D and F grading   policy implemented in the fall by the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) has affected more than 100 students.

But the number of students who will be forced to change their majors — as the policy states — could be slightly lower because of a temporary exemption, said Katharine Cole, assistant dean of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in CAS.

The policy requires students who receive three D and/or F grades in courses needed for biomedical sciences, biology, microbiology, chemistry or medical technology tracks to switch their major.

CAS reviewed more than 5,000 students’ records at the end of the fall semester and 103 students were looking at “redirection.” However, Cole said a handful will be allowed the exemption because they are within one semester of graduation.

“What we decided was that any continuing student who had any D and/or F grades, whether they had 15 or only one, could get a total of two more D and/or F grades,” Cole said. “Right now, advisers are going back through that pool to determine if there are any students within one semester before graduation and with nine or 10 hours left of natural sciences. Those students will not be redirected.”

Patricia Muisener, assistant chair and instructor in the Department of Chemistry, said that of the 103 students affected, 55 of them were in the Department of Chemistry. That department houses the biomedical science, medical technology and interdisciplinary natural science degrees.

Students who received more than three D and/or F grades were sent a redirection notification saying they must switch their majors, Muisener said.

“We send each student an individual e-mail stating that they’ve been redirected and that their courses they picked for their major, which they no longer have, were canceled,” Cole said.

The e-mail contains contact information for two advisers within the CAS dean’s office who deal specifically with the students who need redirection of their major.

Muisener said that any student who is redirected cannot change his or her major to a different natural-science track because he or she has been removed from natural sciences.

“They are advised to schedule an appointment with the graduate and undergraduate studies office to help guide them to select a new major,” Muisener said. “It was a policy that’s meant to encourage students to be successful in their major.”

Cole said parental pressure is often among the factors that play a role in why a student chooses to stay in a major where he or she is struggling.

“Very often you’ll see students with 15 D or F grades in the natural sciences, but you’ll see them get A’s in something else,” Cole said. “There’s different reasons (why) a student continues to stay in a major in which they are really struggling and they actually have a passion for something else. When you talk to them, that sort of comes out.”