Suspension of admissions policy finalized

New procedure recommends transparency and communication between deans and student body

The new policy sets steps for suspending admissions. to programs.
The new policy sets steps for suspending admissions. to programs.
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Senate has passed an official procedure for suspending academic programs, almost two years after the controversial suspension of the University’s Fine Arts program.

Passed in a motion on May 28, the final document sets recommendations for faculty deans, who will be given most of the decision-making responsibility.

It also sets a four-year time limit to suspensions, after which the Senate must make a decision to continue or cancel the program.

Prior to this new procedure, there was no official policy for suspending admissions to academic programs.

The Senate voted against a motion to remove the word “recommended” from the procedure, so each dean will follow the guidelines according to his or her discretion.

“The Senate has stated that such decisions are best made by the responsible dean,” said Laeeque Daneshmend, the chair of the Senate Commission on Academic Development (SCAD).

The document was drafted by the 10 members of SCAD, who submitted it to the Senate in March 2013.

The SCAD included two undergraduate students and one graduate student.

Daneshmend said faculty deans are aware of the complexities behind a decision to suspend admissions, so they should be given the flexibility to use their own judgment.

According the Daneshmend, the deans should gather input from students and other affected parties before deciding to suspend admissions.

“[The procedure] requires that all feasible alternatives to temporary suspension be explored,” he said.

If the dean decides to suspend admissions, he or she must explain the rationale behind the decision to students, Daneshmend said.

The intention is to make the procedure as transparent and consistent as possible across all faculties.

Lauren Long, CompSci ’13, worked on the first draft of the procedure before reviewing it with the SCAD.

She said she consulted with the Student Senate Caucus and the Fine Arts Department Student Council while designing the policy.

According to Long, the members of SCAD realized that each faculty had a variety of reasons and methods for suspending admissions.

She said this was motivation to keep the policy flexible.

“It became clear that the process was something much more complex than something that can be solved with a broad stroke of policy,” she said.

She said the procedure will improve communication between deans and students, which was a major problem during the suspension of the fine arts program in 2011.

“I believe that passing this recommended procedure was a great first step in starting the discussion,” Long said, “but more work needs to be done.” She said the next steps are to address holes in the new procedure and develop a policy for closing down academic programs.

Lauren Anstey, PhD ’15, was the graduate student on the SCAD last year.

She said considerations of confidentiality also factored into the decision.

Examples of confidential circumstances given in the document include a staff member’s health problem and the loss of a professional license.

“If there were more prescribed steps to be followed, it wouldn’t allow for the same flexibility in circumstances where it needs to be confidential,” Anstey said.

However, if a dean doesn’t follow the recommendations, she said, the dean has to explain his or her reasoning to the Senate and the student body.

Anstey said she worries that the diversity of opinion meant the commission could not reach a firm conclusion.

However, SCAD may not be the best group to make those decisions, she said.

“I feel we had come as far as we could go with the procedure we put together.”

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