Tuesday, May 19, 2015

CSU Shafts the Students: Another Decision That Simply Defies Description, You Really Have to Be Here to Believe This Place

What follows is not from the Onion. Rather, the circumstances I describe in this post are all too true. If anyone needs further evidence that our administrators neither know what they are doing nor possess the ability to think through the consequences of their arbitrary and inconceivable actions, here it is.

In 2010, Wayne Watson, through his academic affairs administrators, imposed by fiat a “senior thesis” graduation requirement on all programs. This curriculum addition, which became operative in fall 2010, exempted from the requirement students entering Chicago State prior to that semester. The change mandated the first semester for implementation of the contrived and ridiculous requirement as spring 2015. Predictably, the administration’s interpretation and implementation of the “thesis” has been as bad as the requirement itself. Unfathomable comes to mind.

First, for anyone doing advising, the CAPP system clearly described the “senior thesis” requirement as follows: “ALL undergraduate students entering CSU as of FALL 2010 who will graduate in SPRING 2015 or thereafter will be required to complete a senior thesis project/research paper. Therefore, if you started CSU before FALL 2010, and/or graduate before Spring 2015, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO MEET THIS GRADUATION REQUIREMENT.” Simple and straightforward yes? Not so fast, remember where we are.

Here is the catalog language and the language from the CAPP system. As you can see, both advisors and students who matriculated before fall 2010 would think that the "senior thesis" was not applicable. Silly them. First, the catalog language:

If there is any question about what this means (and the persons who wrote the policy clearly intended it to apply only to those students entering Chicago State in fall 2010 or later), the language in CAPP is available for clarification.

Here's a screenshot taken on May 12, 2015 of one student's degree evaluation from the CAPP system.

Even though persons charged with advising students have relied on the language in CAPP, one (or more) of our immensely wise administrative types has apparently decided to interpret the clear language in CAPPS to actually mean that anyone who took a course at Chicago State in fall 2010 or later was, in fact, subject to this requirement, regardless of their date of matriculation. Relying on the catalog language which said “enrolled” rather than “entered,” the administration has decided to hold students graduating this spring to a requirement Wayne Watson thinks demonstrates academic rigor. Of course, none of the unfortunate students were notified that the university intended to impose this obligation until nearly the end of the spring semester, leaving them no time to meet the requirement.

This means simply that even though a student is ostensibly responsible for fulfilling the requirements present in the catalog when they matriculate, the university has decided to arbitrarily disregard their catalog requirements and impose new requirements for which they were never responsible. What a logical and eminently fair decision. Just imagine running a race and having the race officials continually move the finish line so that you never finish. This is just one more example of how deeply our university officials care for our students and of the great store of wisdom upon which they draw to make decisions.

I notified the Provost and Dean of my College one week ago. The Provost immediately responded that she would investigate and respond to my concerns. I think this issue deserves the administration’s immediate attention since a number of our students who have fulfilled their graduation requirements are waiting to see if Chicago State will allow them to graduate. Will the university change the rules of the game right at the end of their undergraduate careers? Stay tuned.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This is simply ridiculous. At every reputable college and university, the university catalog specifies the requirements in effect during the semester and year a student first enrolls at a university. The catalog term of a student who enters a university in the fall of 2008 is fall 2008; the student is required to complete only the graduation requirements in effect at the time of her initial enrollment that have been specified the published catalog at the time of initial enrollment. The catalog is in effect a contract with the student. Adding graduation requirements not in effect at the time of initial enrollment breaks that contract. As Bob says, it moves the finish line at the end of the race, which in the case of college degrees, is not allowed.

    The language in the CAPP system was very carefully built, as are all systems designed to audit students’ graduation requirements nationwide: A CAPP audit is built on Catalog Term as are all systems designed to audit students’ graduation requirements nationwide.

    Advising has been done with CAPP for some time. The language in CAPP is clear. University advisors are required to adhere to the universal practice of recognizing that a student cannot be required to complete graduation requirements not in effect at the time of their initial enrollment, or their catalog term.

    I would suggest that students affected by this lunacy immediately contact the IBHE Academic Affairs Office; the information is here: http://ibhe.org/aboutBHE/staffmembers.htm contact. Students should contact Daniel Cullen IN WRITING (email). Contacting the IBHE directly is frowned upon, but this is a serious enough violation of students’ rights to demand immediate attention. Students may have legal standing, too.

    Any administrator who is attempting to perpetuate this outrage on students is either a craven incompetent or simply too ignorant and careless to be anywhere near a university.