Guest Column: Clarifying the (former) '3 strikes' developmental registration policy

By Brady Harris, WSU Student Senate president

On behalf of the WSUSA Student Senate, I wanted to offer a response to the “Opposing Viewpoints” column, published in the January 24th issue of The Signpost. Primarily, I would like to provide some background and clarifications regarding the creation of, and subsequent suspension and elimination of, the registration restrictions that occurred if a student was out of compliance with the WSU Assessment & Placement Standards Policy — commonly known as the “three strikes” policy.

Foremost, I want to clarify that the Student Senate had no involvement with the conception of this three-strike policy, nor is it necessarily within our purview to do so. Instead, formulation and adoption of most university policy is done in the WSU Faculty Senate and its committees. For this policy specifically, the Admissions, Standards, and Student Affairs Committee (ASSA) had oversight.

The original intent of the three-strike rule was to help students reach graduation, as a large number complete every degree requirement except for math, and end up leaving with nothing but debt. In March of 2012, the ASSA Committee — recognizing the need for something to be done to begin to address the issue — with best intentions proposed a significant change to policy with the implementation of the three-strike rule. This policy was then voted on and unanimously approved by the Faculty Senate. Because of the three strikes, there was a three-semester delay before students would begin to be affected. This meant that the real scope of the issues to students that were unintended consequences of the policy would not be fully realized until this semester.

The student senate began hearing from students almost immediately after spring registration opened and they realized that they would only be able to register for their developmental classes. We began investigating the issue, and quickly realized that the policy had far-reaching and severe consequences to a significant amount of students — including those relying on financial aid, NCAA athletes, international students, veterans, and many more — the unforeseen problems created by the policy were now alarmingly clear. In total, 73 students contacted the senate regarding the issue, which statistically meant that there were many more who were facing it. Today, we now know that a total of 414 students would have been affected by this policy.

After realizing the extent of the issue, the Senate contacted the WSU President’s Council and Provost’s Office, urging for the suspension of the policy until a further review could be done, in light of the unintended, and often critical, consequences to students. Soon after, in a prudent decision that should be widely praised, the President’s Council voted to immediately suspend the policy until it could be reviewed further by those committees involved in the original policies creation and oversight. In the January 23 meeting of Faculty Senate, the permanent removal of the policy was voted on and passed unanimously. The policy change is now subject to WSU Board of Trustees approval at their next meeting.

The Opposing Viewpoints expressed in The Signpost highlight just how complex of an issue the quantitative literacy requirement truly is. The problem is clear: many students are not reaching graduation because they do not complete the QL requirement for their degree. The answer to how to fix that, however, is unclear and daunting — and committees on campus are currently beginning to devise a multifaceted approach to begin help more of us complete math and reach graduation.

If you have any ideas on how to address this complex issue, we would love to include them in the ongoing discussions. Feel free to email me at [email protected] or stop by a Senate meeting, held every Monday at 2 p.m. in Room 404 of the Union. Regards,

Brady Harris

Executive vice president, Senate president — WSU Student Association

Editor’s note: This column has been edited for mechanics but not for AP style, as per the author’s request.