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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Faculty Senate approves new academic probation criteria

Published: April 11, 2008
Section: Front Page

Faculty members at the April 10, 2008 Faculty Senate meeting, voted in favor of changing the current probation policy.

Dean of Arts and Sciences, Adam Jaffe, presented the motion to change the policy and explained what those changes would mean.

Under the newly changed policy, a student whose cumulative GPA is above 2.000 and receives a single grade of D while under Advising Alert will stay under Advising Alert. Under the old probation policy, a student who received a single grade of D in a semester while under Advising Alert would subsequently be put under probation.

Advising Alert is given to a student who receives a single D in a semester or, under the new policy, whose cumulative GPA is between 2.000 and 2.2. The purpose of the alert is simply to notify the student that he or she is not performing at the academic level expected by the university but is still considered in good standing.

Probation, however, “is a permanent record for students and it affects choices they make,” said Jaffe. “For instance, they cannot study abroad, they’re not supposed to get any incompletes, and…we cannot certify that they were in good standing all throughout their career at Brandeis,” which is important to many applying to law schools. “So, [this policy change] does have some impact and potential.”

A group of students last year came to Jaffe and Academic Services expressing their concern about how “Brandeis appears to be more Draconian, or more strict in its rules of academic probation compared to peer institutions” said Jaffe. From this, Jaffe assembled a small ad hoc group to review the Brandeis’ probation policies as well as other institutions.

In their review of the policies, Jaffe reported that between the schools, “there is a continuum. [Brandeis is] not an outlier on that continuum but I believe it is fair to say it is correct to characterize our current policy as lying toward the more draconian, more stricter end of the continuum.”

Jaffe and his committee proposed the currently approved changes to the probation policy to reflect this matter. In addition, the changes were also able to rectify an issue with keeping policies consistent between criteria for graduating and for being put on probation.

Jaffe said, “there’s no restriction with having D’s on your record; so it does seem potentially inappropriate to put someone on probation and put this official notice alter for performance, if the performance that you’re noting is in fact acceptable to graduate.”

A question was raised concerning whether or not students in good standing, (for instance with 3.0 GPA) should still get academic probation if they just have one bad semester with two D’s. Although this question was addressed, it provoked very little discussion from Jaffe and the Faculty Senate.

Currently, 69 students are on probation, three of which are on probation because of getting single D’s in subsequent semesters. Brandeis also currently has 68 students on Advising Alert, with 36 additional students whose GPA is between 2 and 2.2 and will be put on Advising Alert after the probation policy changes are implemented.

Before being brought to the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday, the changes to the probation policy had already been brought to and endorsed by the Committee on Academic Standing and the Academic Curriculum Committee.