By: Jared Scharf  | 

Course Drop Date Without a “W” Moved Five Weeks Earlier in 2021-22 Calendar

Yeshiva University moved the course drop date without a “W” five school weeks — not including the three weeks of Sukkot break in the fall — into each semester for the 2021-22 academic year, a date five weeks earlier than in past years, according to the academic calendar that was released on Thursday, April 7. The student body was not notified by the university administration about these changes nor about the calendar’s release. 

The course drop date without a “W” is the last day of the semester that students are able to withdraw from a class without a “W” appearing on their transcript. In past years, this date was typically after midterms, about 10 school weeks after the semester began. Students who wanted to withdraw from a course after that date would need to obtain permission and would receive a “W” on their transcript. Now, that date has been moved up by five weeks to Oct. 18, two weeks before midterms begin. 

“The withdrawal date was moved up as part of a previously planned change to the 2020-21 academic calendar but was delayed due to COVID,” University Registrar Jennifer Spiegel told The Commentator. “Our withdrawal deadlines are now in line and consistent with our peer institutions’ academic calendars.” Spiegel did not respond to The Commentator’s inquiries regarding which institutions she was referring to.

In a statement to The Commentator in Spring 2020, Dean of the Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dr. Karen Bacon similarly said, “Our academic policies are based on what is considered best practice in higher education while taking into account local conditions. Some time ago we reviewed our withdrawal from course policy and realized it was not consistent with best practices and needed to be reevaluated.” 

When the Fall 2020 calendar was released to students after Spring 2020, the drop date without a “W” was changed to be only four weeks into the semester, nearly three months earlier than in prior years. After student backlash, the university changed the drop date to its expected time on Dec. 2. 

In addition to the “W” drop date change of the 2021-22 calendar, reading week — the days before final exams designated for studying — will be shortened from five to four days for Fall 2021 and from five to three days for Spring 2022. 

“We are introducing study days instead of reading week this year in preparation for finals,” Spiegel explained. “These days are completely non-instructional and allow students to prepare for their upcoming finals. This change allows our calendar to meet the required number of instructional hours as well as maximizing the full content of courses and also does not impact scheduled breaks in the semester.”

According to Special Assistant to the Provost Timothy Stevens, colleges that are provided with federal financial aid must have at least “750 minutes of instruction and 1,500 minutes of student preparation for each credit hour awarded” He explained that “YU class schedules provide evidence” to Middle States — the organization that ensures that accredited institutions adhere to the minimum standards — “that YU fulfills its obligation to provide sufficient instruction in its courses.”

The calendar also indicated that there will now be five days of “remote instruction” between Rosh Hashanah and the day after Simchat Torah — from Sept. 10 until Oct. 4. The university has not made any formal announcements about the format through which classes will be taught next year. 

Spiegel said that the academic calendar committee met with student leaders before the calendar was released to get their feedback on this year’s academic calendar. Student leaders had the opportunity to express their thoughts regarding the changes to the calendar. 

Commenting on the meeting, Yeshiva College Student Council Vice President Jonah Chill (YC ‘22) said, “I appreciated that the YU administration not only discussed the upcoming academic calendar with students, but also that they listened to students’ input and incorporated it into the calendar.”

Other student leaders were still frustrated with the changes. Baruch Lerman (YC ‘22), Yeshiva Student Union sophomore representative, expressed, “While I understand that some of these changes may have been necessary in order to keep our accreditation as an institution of higher education, I wish the university would send out an email explaining the changes and why they were made instead of just uploading the calendar to the website and allowing us to discover them ourselves.”

Lerman added, “If you don’t feel confident enough in your decisions and your reasons for making them to send us an email explaining them, then maybe those decisions were not the right ones.”

Some students felt positively about certain changes. “I think it’s smart that YU is planning on having remote instruction in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur,” said Ellie Berger (SCW ‘22). “Since we had class at the same time this past year I had assumed that it would be the same next year, and the fact that they’re making it remote allows for out of towners or people who want to travel for the chagim to do that and have the flexibility to do their classes from wherever is convenient for them. They are taking the benefits of Zoom school and using it to our advantage.”

Other students were particularly upset about the drop date change. “In all my semesters at YU thus far, I had the comfort of knowing that I could wait until after a midterm to drop a course,” said Abie Jacobs (SSSB ‘22). “Now that the comfort has been removed, I will not have much time to gauge whether a class is right for me or not. “I’ve been happier about other things.”


Photo Caption: Yeshiva University moved the course drop date without a “W” five school weeks earlier than in past years.

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University