A new policy that gives students the ability to drop a class after the third week of the semester has taken effect on a trial basis beginning this semester. 

The Recording Committee, which now has the authority to approve requests to drop classes after the three-week deadline, proposed the change in hopes that it would give more necessary leeway to students who are considering whether to drop a course.

According to Interim Dean for Academic Affairs Jennifer Scanlon, the Recording Committee had previously only been able to approve a student’s request to drop a course if something had happened outside of the student’s control.

“There were a number of reasons that the Recording Committee felt were legitimate reasons on a student’s part [to drop a course], but it was prohibited from making approval of those because its mandate was so limited,” said Scanlon.

In response to its lack of mandate, the Committee spent about a year discussing and designing a new policy that would give students enough time to get all the necessary information before deciding to drop a class. This past April, the Committee recommended the new policy to faculty. After further discussion, the motion was voted into policy on a trial basis on May 14. After a three-year trial basis, faculty will decide whether to make the new policy permanent. 

One important factor of the new policy is that students can only choose to drop a course after the third week twice in their Bowdoin career (excluding the first semester of their first year). According to Professor of Chemistry Danielle Dube, a member of the Recording Committee, this provision that limits the number of times a student can drop a class after the deadline was added on the day of the faculty vote in response to concerns that the extended deadline could lead to too much course shopping.

“A student would have to have a pretty compelling reason to use one of their two possible drops,” Dube said.

According to Dube, students must also receive approval from their academic advisor before dropping a course. 

“It’s really important to have a conversation about what the potential benefits and downsides are of dropping a course,” Dube said.

Scanlon believes students will appreciate the new options that the policy gives them.

“[The policy] still necessitates a conversation between a student and their academic advisor, and that’s a good thing, but it does give students greater autonomy in making decisions that are right for them,” Scanlon said.

Many students agree that the new policy provides many benefits. 

“I think, especially as a senior, that it is a positive and a good thing,” said Abby Roy ’16. “You could be thinking that you want to add a class, but then your other classes may have more work or you’re doing an honors or an independent study, and it might not be a class that you really need.”

“It seems to only add utility,” said Patrick Blackstone ’17. “It doesn’t seem to restrict students any more. It’s just giving them this extra option.”