Thursday’s front-page story on the continuous enrollment proposal by Rackham (Rackham dean pitches new enrollment policy, 2/4/09) correctly notes that the policy “would require a student to register every semester, from matriculation to degree completion.”

Then, the article seems to reprint a Rackham press release by continuing, “It is expected to increase student flexibility” without providing evidence for this claim. But this is not the fault of the reporter because this evidence doesn’t exist.

A working group of concerned graduate students has been considering the further implications that Rackham may have brushed over in its publicity materials. This group had a meeting with Dean Janet Weiss during the fall semester, where she reassured that the proposal would not negatively impact any students when implemented. The group requested background research on how the policy would achieve the “goals” of Rackham, such as the increasing completion rates while simultaneously decreasing the time to get a degree. The document provided citations of various studies, suggesting how this goal could be reached, but did not mention anything on continuous enrollment.

The working group has identified the following possible, and perhaps unintended, implications of the proposal. These include: decreasing student flexibility as they proceed through their program, the potential that students be required to pay tuition fees if departments can’t or won’t fund them, complicating the ability to undertake cutting-edge external research, decreasing demographic diversity by pressuring departments to admit students who will through a program, and deterring the best students from UM away to schools with less restrictive policies.

I would appreciate if you would consider running a story from the perspective of those most affected by this proposal — graduate students themselves.

Shaun McGirr
Ph.D. pre-candidate

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