As Babson considers tightening credit policy, SGA censures “early graduation” press release

As Babson considers tightening credit policy, SGA censures “early graduation” press release

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On Wednesday, the Student Government Association passed a resolution criticizing a Babson press release that highlights options for graduating early. The resolution expresses the SGA’s opinion that the press release misleadingly portrays early graduation as a new program, even as Babson considers tightening advanced credit requirements, making it more difficult for some to graduate early.

The press release, entitled “Babson College Offers Accelerated Path To An Undergraduate Degree In As Little As Three Years,” describes ways in which students can graduate early by taking additional classes or transferring advanced high school credits. It also identifies the advantages of graduating in three or three-and-a-half years, including earlier workforce participation, entrepreneurship opportunities, and “[increased] return on investment for students.” In it, both President of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts Richard Doherty and Babson College Board Chair Joseph L. Winn are quoted describing these steps as a “new degree option,” and business school news website Poets & Quants released an article covering the press release entitled “Babson Launches Three-Year Degree Option.”

The SGA’s response, called “Statement on Early Graduation PR Piece,” claims that Babson’s press release falsely “[indicates] a change from the status quo” and that “the release of this information as an external PR piece rather than an internal announcement indicates lack of prioritization of current Babson students.” In response, it urges the school to “remove the piece” and “seek and consult student feedback on advanced credit and early graduation.” The SGA Constitution states that such resolutions represent “the official position of the Government.”

For some, the brunt of the issue lay in Babson’s concurrent efforts to change its advanced credit policy. “This announcement is meant to be perceived as, but does not represent, a change from current policy, nor does it constitute ‘news,’ especially so close to the incoming student deposit deadline,” former SGA Vice President of Communications Daniel Foltz said in a Facebook message. “Babson is currently considering restricting AP/IB credit acceptance, making it more difficult to graduate early.”

Currently, Babson allows students to apply advanced credits from most Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, among other sources. A policy passed by the Undergraduate Academic Policy Committee would establish a 16-credit cap on advanced credits, a cap of eight intermediate liberal arts credits, and prohibit advanced credits from applying to free electives.

To move forward, the policy must pass the Faculty Senate. If approved, the policy will come into effect for the Class of 2022. According to Dean of the Undergraduate School Ian Lapp, it would affect a “minimal number of students.”

Although it was formally adopted on Wednesday, the SGA resolution’s path to the public eye was rocky. Its passage and release tested new SGA leadership, which assumed power mere minutes before the vote. And, in some ways, it highlighted the kinks still being worked out in the resolution process itself, which, before this academic year, had not been used in at least two years.

After the initial vote, senators were split on the manner of release, with a plurality agreeing to post the resolution on social media and others expressing concern that this would harm relations with administration. In the end, according to meeting minutes, a second vote established that “the resolution would be emailed [to administration] and then posted the following day.”

However, SGA President Jae Shin vetoed the official social media post on Thursday, in a move that came as a surprise to some senators. The veto came after a morning meeting with President Kerry Healey, Dean Lapp, and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Chief of Staff Kelly Lynch, who, representing administration, pledged stronger relations with the SGA. In an email, Dean Lapp called the meeting “thoughtful, informative, and productive,” saying, “we all left the meeting better educated about the issues and committed to even stronger collaborations.”

Although it was not immediately released by SGA, the resolution became public on Wednesday afternoon when, after seeking confirmation from SGA leadership, Senator Michael Gorman posted it on Facebook with his personal account.

In Facebook messages, Gorman acknowledged the diversity of opinions within SGA and Babson’s own motivations. “We were not trying to attack Babson by calling them hypocrites,” Gorman said. “I am sure they have their reasons. But we as students felt it was wrong to advertise Babson in this way.”

The press release is still present on Babson’s website in its original form. A Faculty Senate vote on the changes to credit policy is scheduled for next Friday.

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