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Yeshiva College Class Drop Date Pushed Back for Spring 2013 Semester

In recent years, Yeshiva College (YC) students have had to decide whether to drop a class without receiving a “W” (Withdrawal) significantly earlier in the semester than Stern College (SCW) or Sy Syms School of Business (Syms) students. This semester, the last day to drop a class for YC students was October 22.  However, the SCW and Syms deadline, extended until December 3, six weeks later than Yeshiva College.

After numerous complaints, students were relieved to hear President Richard Joel declare last month at the semester’s Town Hall meeting, “The provost, using his plenipotentiary powers, has said that all the [class] drop dates will conform one onto the other.” Amid resounding applause, President Joel clarified that this change would only occur “next semester,” eliciting some groans amid the chuckles from the appreciative audience.

The YC drop date will now be pushed off in future semesters to parallel the SCW and Syms date. The official academic calendar for next semester confirms that all YU students’ drop dates will be on April 18.

Several years ago, the YC drop date was changed to be earlier in the semester than Stern or Syms. According to Vice Provost Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, many members of the “YC faculty had felt that pushing the students to get heavily involved earlier would be an improvement [from a later drop date], both for the students and for maintaining YC’s high academic standards.” The stricter deadline intended to encourage students to find classes they preferred as early as possible, instead of dawdling and missing important information from their final destinations. Additionally, the earlier date would allow for the YC faculty and administration to focus on furthering education, rather than worrying about administrative issues late into the semester.

Yeshiva College students recognized the university’s rationale; however, the overall sentiment was a desire to reinstate the old date. Aryeh Sklar (YC ’14) explained, “I can understand the possible advantage for students to be ‘forced’ to make a decision earlier…Still, sometimes it takes quite a few classes to figure out if you don’t like a class or can’t fit it into your schedule, and that extra time is crucial to figuring that out.”

Syms students sympathized for their YU counterparts. Jeffery Berger (Syms ’15) remarked, “The [disparate] drop dates unfortunately put YC students at a disadvantage.  The earlier date forced them to accept either the W or a bad grade on their transcript.”

David Khabinsky (YC ’14) has been working on this issue for some time now. After being “negatively impacted” himself by the early drop date in his first semester on campus, he realized that something had to change. After e-mailing President Joel and arguing strongly for “giving the YC and SCW/Syms students a fair and equal footing,” he was told, in an e-mail from an aide to the president, Daniel Gordon, that the administration was “already in the process of looking into changing this policy.” Khabinsky was the student who brought up the issue at the Town Hall meeting in October. “Very happy” about the new adjustment, Khabinsky believes that “this course of action will benefit all parties involved, especially the students, for which this University exists.”

Dr. Schiffman acknowledged the long delay between complaints and resolution. After recognizing the substantial number of student complaints, many discussions had to happen before the instituted policies were reformed. Essentially, he explained, the provost’s office was “modifying the faculty’s decision,” an action that was “undertaken with great hesitancy and serious consideration.”

The decision was especially welcomed by new students on campus. “The contrast seemed really strange to me,” said Eli Lehman (YC ’15). “Many students here, myself included, do not yet know what their major will be. Since I am still not sure whether I will end up in YC or Syms, I am currently taking classes in both; it was odd to have classes with different drop dates.”

The vice provost admitted that the discrepancies between the schools in rules and standards were issues that needed to be dealt with. He confirmed the commissioning of a committee charged to address other conflicting standards between the schools. Research into issues like AP credits will hopefully generate more unified regulations between YC, Stern, and Syms.

President Joel amusingly pointed out in response to students frustrated in the delay for the new drop date that, “The change will happen next semester. [Laughter] Oh, come on guys, next semester! It’s change! We have change!  It takes us three thousand years to change anything.” Let’s hope it doesn’t take YU that long.