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University extends deadline for rescinding P/D/F option

The faculty yesterday approved P/D/F reform that will allow students to rescind the P/D/F option on courses after nine weeks of the semester. The first semester that the new P/D/F rescind option will become policy has yet to be determined, said Dean of the College Nancy Malkiel following the faculty meeting.

During the meeting, the faculty agreed to the P/D/F change, which will also reduce the amount of courses an undergraduate may declare P/D/F from six to four. Courses initially designated as P/D/F will count toward the student's four P/D/Fs, even if the student later rescinds and opts for a grade.

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"We ought not to offer an open invitation to gaming the system," Malkiel said in defense of the reduction. "We want students to think carefully and sensibly about their P/D/F elections, and we want them to think carefully and sensibly about their P/D/F rescinds."

P/D/F Negotiations

The new P/D/F system is the result of two years of negotiations and committee meetings between USG officers, faculty and Malkiel. The nine-week rescind system was developed in the Course of Study Committee and approved by the Committee on Examinations and Standing.

According to Malkiel, the current P/D/F system is flawed because it does not motivate students to work hard in their courses. "There is a built-in disincentive to intellectual work in courses which students select on a P/D/F basis," she said.

Malkiel asked USG president David Ascher '99 to comment before the faculty voted. "A lot of students take a P/D/F course as a fifth course. We want to encourage that intellectual experimentation," said Ascher, who developed the proposal as USG academics chair last year.

Though the rescind option stretches until nine weeks into the semester, the option to P/D/F will still be available only through the first five weeks of the semester.

Other issues

After the faculty approved the P/D/F rescind change, professor Amy Gutmann presented the findings of the Faculty Committee on Intellectual Property. The committee, chartered last year by President Shapiro, proposed revisions to the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty. Part of the committee's purpose was to address issues of technology and intellectual property.

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"Electronic courses are considered to be computer software," the document stated. "The distribution of electronic courses over electronic networks will therefore be subsumed under the University's existing patent policy."

Patent policy is often more restrictive than copyright policy, under which most intellectual property is regulated. Some professors objected to halting the free flow of information over the Internet.

The proposal also suggested that faculty members not pocket proceeds received from sales of course materials they use for their own courses.

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