Bowdoin’s Recording Committee introduced a motion to move the drop deadline from the second to the sixth week of the semester at April’s faculty meeting. 

Introduced last month, faculty will vote on the proposal at the May 4 faculty meeting. 
Bion R. Cram Professor of Economics Rachel Connelly, who serves on the Recording Committee, said that the proposed policy change is about fairness for students.

“Expecting students to be able to figure out by the second week of the semester if they had bitten off more than they can chew...was a tough thing,” she said. 

Composed of faculty, students and staff, the Recording Committee is a standing committee that deals with matters related to the “policies and procedures governing academic life,” according to the Office of the Registrar. 

While the issue has been discussed for some time, this proposal is the first step towards an actual change in College policy. 

Currently, returning students have only the end of the add/drop period during the second week of the semester to drop classes without penalty. New students (first semester first-years and transfers) have until the eighth week to do the same. Under the new proposal, the deadline to add classes would remain at the second week of the semester. However, all students would be able to drop classes without a record on their transcript until the sixth week of classes.

If approved, this proposal would put Bowdoin’s add/drop policies in line with many of its peer schools. Middlebury, for example, allows students to add classes until the end of the second week, but also allows them to drop classes until the fifth week of the semester. Bates, Colby, Hamilton, Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan and Williams all have variations of the same late drop deadline policy.

This policy change was included in the proposals offered by several candidates for Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) positions. BSG President-elect Danny Mejia-Cruz ’16 said that BSG has been working on this issue for a number of years.

“It’s something that [Bowdoin Student Government] has been trying to push through since before I even got here,” said Mejia-Cruz. “Students have stated many times over many semesters that they do not have the necessary amount of knowledge about how they’re going to do in a class to decide with any sense of grounded awareness that they will or will not proceed in the class.”

Student and faculty opinions on the issue vary, with many supportive of the flexibility but leery of effects on academics and student progression.

“I don’t think it would be a very good idea,” said Noah Verzani ’18. “If you only take three classes one semester, you’ll have to take five another. If you can’t handle four classes, taking five probably isn’t going to go well either.”

Connelly said that the Recording Committee considered potential challenges and complications as the new proposal and its provisions were written. In the end, she said, the committee decided Bowdoin’s rules regarding dropping classes were simply too rigid. 

Each year, as the Recording Committee considers petitions from students who want to drop a class after the deadline, it is forced to deny most appeals because of the rigid rules in place, Connelly said.