According to the 2020-21 Undergraduate Catalogue, students must complete at least 12 credit hours during the semester in order to qualify for the Dean’s List. However, many students may have reduced course loads based on accommodations from Disability Services. If that is the case, the protocol makes them ineligible for the Dean’s List no matter their GPA. Many students may not be aware of this protocol due to the intricate rules that often go unnoticed in the course catalogue.
One student who has a reduced course load accommodation from Disability Services shared their feelings on this issue with The Herald. When asked how they discovered the protocol, they stated, “I [found it] at my first school. They didn’t add people with accommodations to the Dean’s List, and I wanted to make sure that wasn’t an issue at Meredith, so I looked it up in the undergraduate catalogue.” The student reached out to Disability Services to find out if any changes were being made about this policy. They said, “I was told there is no current change and that change would be a long-term initiative with multiple departments.”
What does this mean for students with accommodations? “I think it’s a continuation of harmful stereotypes and attitudes surrounding people with disabilities. It belittles their achievements,” the student explained. “It makes people think, ‘if someone with disabilities did it, it must not be special.’ To me, it’s problematic in a legal and ethical sense. It fails to make sure all students feel included at our institution.” The student said that this protocol shows how school officials “aren’t thinking about disabilities” when creating policies. “I think because the policy is there and they aren’t prioritizing change, I feel like I’m not being listened to or valued like other students,” they stated.
Disability Services agrees that inclusion is necessary at Meredith College. Karen Hager, a disability counselor in the office, previously worked at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario, where this same policy was an issue. Hager explained, “Behind all this is the belief that in some circumstances, some students with disabilities take more time with their degree path than a non-disabled student. This doesn’t mean the disabled student isn’t qualified, it just means that they may take longer.” At Meredith College, students with reduced course loads are still treated like full-time students despite being excluded from the benefits of academic recognition, according to Hager. Hager stated that bringing attention to this issue and educating those involved can create change within this policy. Carolyn Koning, Assistant Director for Disability Services, agreed with the points raised by Hager. Koning commented, “The purpose of accommodations is to facilitate the same access that non disabled students have to all college programs, activities, facilities and opportunities. Accommodations should not penalize a student for having a disability.”
If Meredith College changed this rule, they would not be the first college to do so. The University of Georgia updated its Dean’s List policy to include students who have a reduced course load accommodation. Their updated rule can be found here.
The Herald’s student source said, “I think I’d like [all Meredith students] to know that any sort of injustice in the way Meredith College is treating its students, even if it doesn’t affect them now, could one day. By stopping these injustices now, it can help Meredith students in the future and make them feel included and valued.”
By Kaylee Haas, Staff Writer