Interim change leaves students, especially engineering students, hanging out to dry

In the midst of academic advising, Calvin made an announcement that starting next academic year, students will no longer be required to take any interim classes to graduate. Many students are likely celebrating this news, as interim has been an opportunity for students to take courses outside of their major or core requirements. This news, however, came with a second change that has left several students worried about their ability to complete their planned programs for the following year. Also starting next year, any interim class will count towards the credit load of spring semester. 

One group in particular has been heavily burdened by this news: junior engineering students. A requirement of the engineering program is a comprehensive special topics course taken by every engineering student during their senior year interim. Every engineering student planning to take 15, 16 or 17 credits during the next spring semester will have to pay an overage fee of $904 per credit due to the required interim class. I, Lexie Lundquist, am one of these students. I came to Calvin with no credits and the promise of a program that could be completed in four years. I have taken 16 or 17 credits every semester, following the program laid out by the engineering department. I will have to pay an extra $904 just to graduate. I have no other choice. What’s worse, some students will pay an extra $2,712 for the same reason. 

Several students have shared these concerns with the administration some sent emails to the provost, while others talked with President Le Roy during his office hours. Many of these students were asking important questions, specifically about the class of 2021. However, Calvin’s administration has failed to answer many of these questions. In response to some senior engineering students’ concerns, Provost Cheryl Brandsen sent the following suggestions: (1) drop extra majors and/or minors, (2) ask faculty advisors for assistance adjusting your schedule to fit the new credit requirement, (3) and take summer classes. While these suggestions are helpful for some affected students, many are not so lucky. Students taking a full load in the spring semester of their senior year are generally not able to reduce the number of credits they are taking, and the higher-level courses they need are not offered in the summer. Calvin has left several students between a rock and a hard place, with their only option being to fork over extra cash. 

We understand that the university has been financially burdened by the pandemic and needs to take on new tuition policies to avoid going into further debt. While we understand why the decision is a responsible shift in the long term, the last-minute implementation of these changes has created undue hardship for next year’s graduating class. In a time of crisis, Calvin has created another crisis for some of its students. When those who should be helping you the most are actively hurting you, something has gone very wrong. We believe that the administration should create an exemption for students in the class of 2021 who have no way to avoid the overcharge tuition fees for next spring semester. We also hope that the whole engineering department and the rest of the student body will help speak up about the injustice of this situation. Maybe this time it is only the class of 2021 being hurt by a sudden change, but next time it could be you.