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CAP Reviews Frosh Credit Limit

By Stacey E. Blau
News Editor

Several proposals to change the freshman credit limit and pass/no record grading policies are currently being discussed by the Undergraduate Association Committee on Educational Policy.

The CEP is currently trying to collect student and faculty opinion on its possible proposals, said Christopher E. Carr '99, a CEP committee member who has dealt specifically with issues of credit limits and pass/no record grading.

Some of these proposals include allowing freshmen the chance to exceed the credit limit and petition for "special standing."

"We are not trying to get any specific proposal passed," Carr said. "We are mostly looking to give freshmen ways to enhance their academic opportunities."

A questionnaire was distributed yesterday by the UA during registration in DuPont Gymnasium to solicit student opinion on a variety of questions about education. The survey included a number of questions about the CEP's possible proposals.

Credit limit may be exceeded

The CEP has developed several ideas for proposals from discussion and student input.

One proposal would allow freshmen the possibility of successfully petitioning the Committee on Academic Performance to exceed the credit limit. "You can't do it now with any success," Carr said.

Each request would be considered on an individual basis. Students might be required to maintain a certain level of academic performance or else be forced drop the extra units because of poor grades, Carr said.

The proposal may include a stipulation that if students choose to exceed the limit, they would be forced to take their classes on grades, Carr said.

The CEP is also considering a proposal to allow students to petition for "special standing" regardless or whether they have the number of units of credit currently required for freshmen to attain sophomore standing.

Similar to sophomore standing, special standing would allow freshmen to exceed the 57-unit spring term credit limit for freshmen and take their classes on grades. "There are some concerns, though, that there would be pressure on students who didn't petition," Carr said

CAP, faculty look at proposals

While the CEP may make several eventual recommendations, it does not have any policy-making power.

Any proposal made by the CEP would be subject to approval by the the CAP and faculty policy committee, and then to a vote by the faculty, said CAP Chair Kerry A. Emanuel PhD '76, professor of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

"I'm sure there would be a lot of debate before any vote" since the faculty considers the credit limit an important policy, Emanuel said.

"We're not going to try to make any large changes in the system," Carr said. "Students would not support radical changes."

"A large number of freshmen are taking as many classes as the credit limit allows," and some would like to take more, Emanuel said.

The CAP usually turns down petitions to exceed the credit limit, which was intended to be a very strict limit, Emanuel said. "I personally don't think that's particularly fair" to students, but "if we open the door to petitions, we'd be inundated and maybe become dysfunctional."

"The system at least needs to be looked at," Emanuel said. The CAP will likely commission a survey of upperclassmen to see if "in hindsight students thought they were under a lot of pressure already their freshman year."

"I personally would be reluctant to do anything to add to the pressure of the undergraduate experience," a sentiment likely shared by the faculty, said Chair of the Faculty Lawrence S. Bacow, professor of urban studies and planning.

Allowing freshmen to exceed the credit limit "may establish a norm that that's what freshmen should do," Bacow said. "I wouldn't support that."