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Who is responsible?

Eric Prister | Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Deans of the College of Arts and Letters,

I am a sophomore PLS major who takes his education very seriously. Being a PLS sophomore, but desiring to study abroad next spring, I decided to take two seminars instead of one, the norm for all students in PLS. Each is a four-credit course, putting my credit total at 17 (including three other three-credit classes), the total number that I am allowed as a sophomore in the College of Arts and Letters. However, in preparation for graduate school (something that you have often criticized the PLS department for not doing), Professor Candida Moss, a Bible scholar, generously offered to begin teaching me Biblical Greek, a course which is not offered by the University. In order to do so, I wished to sign up for a directed reading course with Professor Moss, which would put me at 20 credit hours.

With this goal in mind, I went into your office on Monday to apply for an overload. I spoke to a very nice woman at one of the desks in the main lobby of your office, who listened to an extremely abridged version of my plan for next semester. After hearing my plan, she went to speak to one of you. She returned about twenty-five seconds later with the answer that under no circumstances are sophomores allowed to overload.

Later that day, a fellow Arts and Letters sophomore went to your office with a similar goal in mind. She accepted a job with ND Vision this summer, a program which requires its counselors to take a three-credit prep course in the spring semester before they take the job. If she were to take her normal course load and also take the Vision class, she would have eighteen credit hours, or according to you, an overload. She also described her situation, and was given the same answer. Under no circumstances are sophomores allowed to overload.

What frustrates me about these experiences is that sophomores in the College of Arts and Letters are the only people who cannot overload. Juniors and seniors in the same college can. Sophomores in all other colleges can. Even freshman, who are in the jurisdiction of the First Year of Studies, are able to overload. Only sophomores in the College of Arts and Letters are not allowed to cross the apparent pinnacle of a tolerable workload- seventeen credit hours.

What frustrates me even more is the treatment I received in your office. I was not even given the opportunity to speak to one of you directly in order to plead my case. An important educational decision was decided for me in a matter of five minutes. As I was leaving your office, I noticed a sign on the wall which read “Students are our first priority.” If this is truly the case, then why do you have a rule that is so inflexible and condescending for those who wish to take responsibility for their own education?