MSA calls for more U responsibility to raise graduation rates

Justin Ware

As the leaders of the University’s academic departments continue to discuss the institution’s six-year graduation rate, student representatives offered their own remedy Thursday.

The Minnesota Student Association – the students’ governing body – issued its perspective on how to get students to graduate sooner. The response calls for changes within the University rather than resting the bulk of the responsibility on students.

“A big thing is getting students involved,” said MSA President Dan Kelly.

He said he wished the task force behind the report had sought student input in the early stages of the report’s development.

He said he was happy members of the Council of Undergraduate Deans asked students for input after the report was released but felt the students’ interests would have been better served if they had a voice from the beginning.

The deans’ report suggests changing the University’s current system of course withdrawal, requiring instructor approval on
withdrawals after week two of class.

Kelly said the new policies on withdrawal, along with a maximum number of credits a student can have without graduating, are the two biggest flaws in the report.

According to the dean’s report, students would have the option of withdrawing from a maximum of four courses.

Dick Skaggs, chairman of the undergraduate deans council, said no plans have been set and everything is still in the preliminary discussion stages.

“I don’t think we’ve established a clear path,” Skaggs said, “I think these points … they need to be talked about.”

Kelly said he recognizes the role students must play in increasing graduation rates but thinks the University needs to make changes as well, particularly to the office of financial aid.

“The thing we want to get across is the office needs more staff,” Kelly said. “They need staff to spend substantial time with students with special needs.”

Kelly said an example would be students whose parents have suddenly cut them off after the student reveals he or she is homosexual.

The MSA president said he
doesn’t think the plan is entirely off the mark and there are parts he would like to work with.

“The end result,” he said, “is going to be better education.”

Justin Ware encourages comments at [email protected]