Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) sent out a survey to gauge student opinion of two widely-contested academic policies last week with the hopes of garnering momentum to convince faculty to change the policies. The first of these policies, known as the “bunching rule,” states that students with three final exams in a 48-hour period can reschedule one to a more convenient time; the second policy prevents students from declaring two minors.
Leading the initiative is BSG Executive Committee member Jenna Scott ’19, who—like many of her fellow students—has questioned both of these policies many times since the start of her academic career at Bowdoin.
Although the bunching rule is currently only utilized by around three percent of students, Scott laments that it only applies to examinations and fails to recognize other methods of evaluation, such as final papers. She believes students should be allowed to reschedule due-dates of final papers if they have three papers or a mix of papers and exams within one 48-hour period.
“I think that, as an institution that uses a variety of methods to show what students have learned in a semester, our handbook and policies should reflect that,” said Scott.
While Scott anticipates that changes to the bunching rule will have a decent chance of passing through faculty and the Curriculum Implementation Committee (CIC), she thinks a policy allowing students to double minor might be a bit harder to pass, as it is a more significant change to academic policy at Bowdoin.
Nicole D Tjin A Djie ’21, chair of academic affairs for BSG, agrees. She is the BSG representative to the CIC.
“Obviously, there’s going to be a lot of discussion about it before they make any huge change,” said Tjin A Djie. “Because that’s a significant change.”
However, it is clear that some students believe that the College should allow for double minors. Essentially, Scott believes students should be able to get credit for multiple passions, especially if they have put in the work and taken enough classes to fill the requirement for a minor.
“At a school that talks so much about wanting us to explore as many passions as we can, it can be very limiting for students who, like me in my first year, wanted to go into three different fields but didn’t want to have to cut one out … or focus on it to the point of being a double major,” said Scott.
So far, 328 students have responded to the survey; Scott would love to see this number increase to at least 500, as she believes that student feedback will play a significant role in the policymaking process.
“I think faculty really want to hear from students. When I talk to administrators, they always say the students are the ones with the power, but we often don’t know it … so if this is something that we want, if the survey reveals that, then I think [the administration] will take it into pretty decent account.”
Additionally, Scott encourages students who feel passionate about policies such as these to voice their thoughts at BSG’s general assembly meetings, which take place in Daggett Lounge every Wednesday from 8:45 p.m. to 10 p.m. The first 15 minutes of every meeting are designated to Public Comment Time.
“We really want people to come to Public Comment Time,” said Scott, “even if it’s not about this issue.”