The minutes for the November 1 Meet and Confer meeting point to the growing tension between the Potter administration and the SCSU Faculty Association. Here’s the testiest confrontation from the meeting:
Admin: The record of taking the class is dropped from the transcript. It is not a letter grade but an action.
FA: One thing not here is retrospective decisions being made over several years. We understand the requests come in from people who want records changed from over a decade ago.
Admin: The time of the request is the time the decision would be made. You can decipher what semester it impacted by the refund. I’m told that doesn’t happen but only in the current year. This is organized by the fiscal year of request.
FA: Refunds that were processed in year 2012, that would be for courses taken in 2012 because refunds are not issued. But this is not information from a drop.
Admin: The incident is recorded when the student makes the request.
FA: You haven’t answered my question. This is only about refunds.
Admin: That is correct.
FA: Refunds are only issued in the year they are taken. For fiscal 12 409 would have been courses in 2012. It doesn’t tell us about drops or withdrawals.
Admin: That’s correct.
FA: This chart doesn’t tell us anything.
Admin: I don’t think SCSU is unique to this data problem of finding an easy way to record and sustain the decision. When the decision is made a communication would be made to the student. In short of rummaging in every student file the information is difficult to obtain. Going forward we will have a better way.
FA: We asked for this two years ago. This is a problem of integrity. There are legitimate reasons for dropping courses, but what about five years ago? Someone fails a class and why would they come back five years later to change the grade?
Admin: I’m not disagreeing. Let me work with Phil.
FA: Mitch gave us that report that showed that data.
Admin: The magnitude of the analysis was smaller than what is going on today. It was easier for Mitch to go and manage than it is today. There were 409 refunds issued in 12 months and that doesn’t count all the transcript changes and it doesn’t include all the times the transcript was asked to be change. We need a system. We cannot today get summary data.
The quote that hits hardest is when the FA says “This is a problem of integrity. There are legitimate reasons for dropping courses but what about five years ago? Someone fails a class and why would they come back five years later to change the grade?”
Challenging the administration’s integrity isn’t a tiny issue. It’s troubling that the SCSU administration didn’t dispute the fact that students from “five years ago” got their failing grades deleted. What’s worst is that the administration is struggling to find a solution to this problem:
FA: I think we should be thinking proactively with data cubes…?
Admin: No. I’ve been working for two days and Image Now is fatally flawed.
FA: I don’t disbelieve you. But we can set up spreadsheets, this shouldn’t be rocket science. I understand the move but we need to start putting this into some form that can be tracked and pulled. These numbers are astonishing. Can you speak about the reasons why people are given refunds?
If the University’s software isn’t effectively tracking this information, why didn’t they set up a system utilizing spreadsheets or other types of software? Might it be that the administration isn’t interested in tracking this information? It certainly can’t be ruled out based on the Faculty Association’s assertion that it’s “a problem of integrity.”
This exchange won’t flatter the administration, either:
FA: Giving the way we are watching numbers, the idea that we don’t have command of this data is scary.
FA: We asked for a representative sample so we could look at some of these. I sent that to both of you. I hear that people are counseling faculty for people who can do this with low grade point averages so that they can go and do this.
Admin: You would have to give me specific examples.
TRANSLATION: FA to the administration: It’s frightening that you don’t have a system for tracking transcripts. Administration: You’re right. FA to the administration: We asked you for information about this. Administration: We’ll get you the information. Trust us.
Given this administration’s mishandling of the students’ transcripts, the FA shouldn’t trust this administration’s tracking of the students’ transcripts.