August 14 CCC Announcement Profoundly Undermines the Rights of Students

Last Friday, August 14, we received a district wide notice that included the following statement:

“If they [students] do not plan to attend the Fall 16 week courses for which they have registered, they must drop those courses by the end of the day Sunday, August 23 or they will be completely financially responsible for them.”

Note that this is the day prior to classes beginning. Usually, students have a full week after semester start to withdraw from classes. 

HWC faculty Jeni Meresman reports that the Truman Faculty Council found a discrepancy between this new policy and the established policy in the Student Policy Manual, page 27.

“Refunds – Credit Courses Refunds for Student Initiated Withdrawals (WTH; see WTH – Student Initiated Withdrawal on page 44) are available at one hundred percent (100%) of tuition and applicable fees (see NonRefundable Fees on page 24) only if processed during the first seven (7) calendar days from the start of class in a regular session during the Fall and Spring terms (or equitable time period for special sessions, including the Summer term).”

Seven days after, or August 30.

Meresman states that “The Truman FC has contacted their administration and all faculty about this discrepancy, and Jennifer Alexander is going to contact Rasmus.”

From what I’ve heard, an HWC faculty council member will present this to our chair’s meeting with Dean Thompson and VP Sarrafian today.

Opinion: 

If this e-mail is a true representation of a new policy, it serves to severely oppress our students’ ability to make responsible decisions for themselves, and make CCC ever less accessible to our community. Students at the City Colleges are not permitted to “shop” for classes. “Shopping for classes” is a practice used by some, but by no means all, other academic institutions. It allows students to attend a variety of classes the first week, check out the syllabus and their instructors, before financially and academically investing in the course. At CCC, students have had the ability to register for classes, show up, check out the syllabus, books, and instructor, and still withdraw if they can’t fit the course into their schedule or decide its not how they wish to spend their time. If this new policy goes through, it will lock students into a course before they have seen anything of the course. The notion of the syllabus “contract” becomes ever more absurd, as students are now required to sign away ever more of their money for a class they know less and less about.

Was this a mere oversight, or a calculated move? There sure seem to be a lot of oversights lately, all of which profoundly affect the way students can pursue their education: almost all of which make our community college less about access to the Chicago community, and more about chasing after that new golden-calf of quality: degree completion rates.

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