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Thursday, Apr 18, 2024

Faculty Council votes to extend Credit/No Credit deadline through Dec. 8 in response to two student deaths this semester

The Faculty Council passed a motion in an emergency meeting last Friday, Nov. 17 to extend the deadline to drop a course and invoke Credit/No Credit for the fall semester through Friday, Dec. 8. 

Sixty-seven percent of the 96 faculty members who voted on the motion at the meeting voted in favor of extending the course drop & Credit/No Credit deadlines. 

The motion upon which the Faculty Council voted read, “In light of recent tragedies, the Fall 2023 deadlines for dropping a course and opting for Credit/No Credit grading will be extended until 5 pm on December 8. Courses taken under CR/NCR for the fall 2023 semester can count for major/minor requirements, as well as distribution requirements.”

The motion passed in an effort by faculty to provide greater flexibility for students impacted by the two student deaths on campus this semester. The Faculty Council passed a similar motion to extend the course drop and Credit/No Credit deadlines in November 2021, following the death of a student on campus and in the midst of a Covid-19 outbreak that caused students to be sent home early for winter break. 

The Student Government Association (SGA) sent an email to all students after the emergency meeting announcing the passage of the motion. SGA President Abed Abbas ’24 submitted a resolution to the college administration on behalf of the SGA on Sunday, Nov. 12 calling to extend the Credit/No Credit alternate grade mode option for the rest of the fall semester. 

Abbas and Freddi Mitchell ’25, student constituent advisor on the College Board of Advisors, were in attendance at the Faculty Council meeting to advocate in favor of the motion. 

Abbas explained to the group that the death of Ivan Valerio ’26, the second death of the semester following the death of Evelyn Mae Sorensen ’25 in mid-September, happened five days after the deadline to drop a course and invoke Credit/No Credit ended on Nov. 3. As a result, Abbas said, students did not know about this circumstance in making their decision whether or not to invoke Credit/No Credit. It would not be fair for all of the hard work students have put in this semester to be devalued in the aftermath of this crisis during the final weeks of the semester, he added. 

“This has been worse than any of the past semesters I’ve been here,” Abbas said at the meeting. “Student morale is literally at rock bottom.” 

The original motion brought to the Faculty Council meeting did not extend the Credit/No Credit grade mode to count for major and minor requirements, or for distribution requirements. Phil Chodrow, assistant professor of Computer Science, called to amend the motion to include a provision that was a part of the SGA resolution that allowed courses taken Credit/No Credit to count toward major, minor and distribution requirements. 

The extension of the course drop and Credit/No Credit deadlines in November 2021 allowed for courses taken Credit/No Credit to count toward major, minor and distribution requirements. 

Chodrow explained that in his computer science courses, many of his students knew Valerio, who was a prospective computer science major. Without the amendment, Chodrow said, many of his students grieving from Valerio’s death would be unfairly affected as computer science majors now forced to choose between Credit/No Credit for his course or using it for their major. 

Some faculty expressed concern about the proposed amendment and the motion more generally. One professor said she believes the provision to extend Credit/No Credit to major and minor requirements allows students to pass fundamental courses they need to do well in without actually doing well. 

Another professor stated his concern that another student might see how the student deaths this semester resulted in this loosening of Credit/No Credit rules and think that they would be doing something for the student cause by taking their own life. The professor explained his worry that a struggling student would think “I can sacrifice myself to help other students” if the Faculty Council approved the resolution.

Dean of Students Derek Doucet, Dean of Junior and Senior Experience Scott Barnicle and Dean of Sophomore Experience Matt Longman attended the Faculty Council meeting to express their support for the motion. 

Longman described the extension of Credit/No Credit as a “timely off-ramp” for students who are in need of extra help and are not being reached by the support systems currently in place. 

Doucet said the proposed motion, including the amendment to include major and minor requirements, is in line with the college’s postvention approach of allowing students the flexibility to process the tragedies how they need to as individuals. This flexibility, Doucet continued, might involve taking a course Credit/No Credit this semester for some students. 

Barnicle added that the motion is valuable because it provides students with a concrete, established path to follow to take care of themselves and mourn the recent losses in the community. 

The Office of the Registrar followed up on Monday, Nov. 20 with an email to students explaining some logistics of the extension of the course drop and Credit/No Credit deadline through Dec. 8. Students must remain in a minimum of 3 credits for the fall semester and can invoke Credit/No Credit for one course if they are enrolled in courses totaling at least 4 credits this semester, according to the email. 

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The email also stated that students can invoke the Credit/No Credit or Pass/D/Fail options a maximum of two times throughout their academic careers, and a minimum grade of C- is required to receive credit for a course. 

The SGA expressed their gratitude toward Faculty Council for extending the course drop and Credit/No Credit deadline in their email announcing the motion passing. “We would like to extend a lot of thanks and appreciation to our faculty who voted on this, our deans who advocated on our behalf, and everyone from the administration and the student body who contributed to making this happen,” SGA wrote.

Maggie Reynolds

Maggie Reynolds '24 (she/her) is the Editor in Chief.  

Maggie previously served as the Senior Local Editor, a Local Section Editor, and a Staff Writer. She spent this past J-term interning for VTDigger, covering topics from affordable housing in Addison County to town government scandals. She also interned for Seven Days VT as an arts & culture reporter summer 2022 and as a news reporter for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY summer 2021.   

Maggie is majoring in History and minoring in Political Science and Spanish. She was a three-year member of the Women's Swimming and Diving team. Maggie enjoys running, hiking, and iced maple lattes.