In response to student protests, the number of honors listed on
student transcripts will now be limited, the Office of the Provost
announced yesterday.

The new policy narrows transcript notations to include eight
approved honors. Previously, the list contained more than 400 honor
societies, fellowships, scholarships, awards and student
organization memberships, said Lester Monts, senior vice provost
for academic affairs.

The change was prompted in part by the efforts of Student Voices
in Action, a group formed earlier this year to protest student
budget cuts, said Monts. Last spring, SVA staged protests and spoke
at a University Board of Regents meeting for the removal of
Michigamua, a secret society, as an honorary notation on

Although SVA was pushing for Michigamua’s removal from
transcripts, the administration decided to overhaul the entire
honors system, said Matthew Stehney, president of the Native
American Student Association.

NASA worked with SVA to remove Michigamua because of its racist
practices, said Stehney, an LSA junior. He said the secret
society’s rituals denigrated Native American practices.

“They are no longer affiliated with the University. There
is no sort of standards for acceptance like an honors society.
It’s usually done by the discretion of the previous
class,” Stehney added.

The University’s ambiguous policy triggered a revision of
how the University determines what honors should appear on the
transcripts, said Monts.

“None of us knew what that process was, and when we found
out it was such a flimsy process, we initiated some action to
change it,” said Monts.

Stehney added he is satisfied that the demands of SVA were met
by the change in transcript policy.

Previously, a school or college simply had to call the
registrar’s office in order to get an award placed on a
transcript, and there was no formal method of approval, Monts
added. He also said many of the honors were obscure awards.

Now, transcripts will specifically include University Honors,
the Dean’s List, Angell Scholars, honor societies such as Phi
Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. Levels of distinction for individual
colleges or schools such as Magna Cum Laude, Highest Honors and
with Highest Distinction will also remain on transcripts.

“We’re not trying to deny students recognition. We
just think there is a better way for students to be recognized for
their achievement. This new process allows students to do
that,” Monts said.

The changes to transcripts should not affect the way employers
and admissions officers view them, particularly because the policy
is now in line with the American Association of Collegiate
Registrars and Admissions Officers and many other universities,
Monts said.

The University has surveyed employers, graduate and professional
schools, and it has found that they do not typically look to
transcripts for a student’s honorary achievements, said
Simone Himbeault Taylor, associate vice president for student
affairs and director of the Career Center.

Employers and admissions officers typically turn to resumes or
applications for the types of awards that are being omitted from
transcripts, Himbeault Taylor said. Students can also describe the
awards in resumes and applications, whereas in a transcript, titles
of awards can sound obscure, she added.

The Provost’s Council on Student Honors will review
additional awards that colleges wish to add to the list, Monts
said. “That council can be petitioned to have awards
considered for placement on the transcript, but it will be a very
rigorous process,” he added.

The new policy will help encourage other means of documenting a
student’s accomplishments such as electronic portfolios,
which are becoming popular at other universities, Himbeault Taylor

“There’s already some work occurring on campus with
e-portfolio development. What we are hoping to examine is how that
work can be leveraged with this documentation component in
mind,” she added.

Changes in transcript policy will go into effect this semester.
If an award is already on a student’s transcript, it will not
be removed, but further unapproved awards will not be added.

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