Lehigh students can drop classes throughout the semester with the add/drop form. Currently, any class dropped after 11 weeks is entered on a transcript as “WP" or “WF." (Photo Illustration by Erik Thomas/B&W Staff)

Faculty members propose plan to remove withdraw pass/fail period


Members of the Lehigh faculty are pushing for the Registrar’s Office to adopt a stricter add-drop policy.

When students start classes at the beginning of a semester, they are given 10 days to drop a course without a withdrawn mark — as noted by a W added to their transcript. After that, an additional nine-week period allows students to drop with a ‘W’ on their transcript. The W does not affect a student’s GPA.

Any class dropped after 11 weeks is then graded on a pass-fail system. WP is a withdrawal with a passing performance and does not affect the student’s GPA, while a WF is a withdrawal with a failing performance and counts as a zero toward a student’s GPA.

With a newly proposed policy introduced by several faculty members, students will have to remain in the class and receive a grade after the eleventh week of classes. Under this policy, the WP/WF period would be removed completely.

Student Senate member John Bodkin, ’17, will speak against the policy at an upcoming faculty meeting for its first official reading. He wrote in an email the new policy would remove students’ ability to drop classes after their eleventh week.

“It was explained to me by a faculty member of the Education Policy Committee,” Bodkin said in an email. “This change will put our withdrawal policy more in line with those of our peer institutions.”

Although Bodkin doesn’t agree with the policy, he explained the faculty’s reasoning.

Bodkin wrote that this plan is a protective measure for students. If students are performing poorly in a class, they should already know whether to drop by the eleventh week.

Bodkin wrote that dropping a class earlier would allow students more time to dedicate to other classes and extracurricular activities.

Chris Auteri, ’19, has dropped two classes since he started attending Lehigh. He said neither of those classes were dropped after the eleventh week, and he would not consider dropping one so late in the semester.

“The first (class) was a scheduling error and the second time it took me roughly eight weeks to decide to drop the class,” Auteri said. “Once I did, however, I had a lot more free time on my hands to focus on my other courses.”

Charles Stevens, an assistant professor of management, teaches higher-level courses and said he has not had a lot of students withdraw from his classes.

“I can see how this policy change could be more of an issue for freshmen and sophomores regarding class choices,” Stevens said. “Circumstances happen. There are many reasons why people withdraw from a class, many of which are outside the student’s control.”

The new policy will not change the way in which students withdraw from a class. Students will still present an add-drop policy form to their adviser and course instructor. Both faculty members must sign off on a decision before the student can deliver the form to the registrar.

Bodkin will be speaking before the faculty body to represent the student perspective on the new policy. While the policy encourages early drops, he wrote that he believes late withdrawals have some benefit for students’ academic performances.

“I would encourage any student who feels strongly in favor of maintaining the WP/WF ability and has a story of how a late withdrawal has helped them succeed academically to email the Lehigh Senate with the details of how it helped,” Bodkin wrote.

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1 Comment

  1. The current policy seems more than fair. Leave it alone. There are many legitimate reasons why a student may want or need to withdraw from a class later in the semester. Students obviously aren’t withdrawing because they are doing great in the class.The elimination of the current timeline will represent only downside to these students. Sometimes students don’t realize that they will have no opportunity to salvage their grade until after they get the results of the second mid-term. Maybe they just don’t want a D or even a C on their transcript. This policy allows them the opportunity to save face, possibly take the course again and perhaps improve on it next time without completely destroying their transcript. Who exactly are the faculty members who proposed this? What does it matter to them if a student wants to withdraw close to the end of the semester? Is it too much work to sign the form? They apparently are not concerned with the well-being of Lehigh’s students. What is the upside of this proposal to the students? There is none!

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