ASG Tumblr challenges stigma surrounding dropped classes


Source: NU Dropped Classes screenshot

Members of the Northwestern community reflect on the experience of dropping a class through a Tumblr blog. The blog, created by the Associated Student Government executive board and student leaders, launched Sunday evening to create a student narrative on different perspectives of dropping a class.

Alice Yin, Assistant Campus Editor

Associated Student Government has created an online student forum about dropping classes to challenge academic norms at Northwestern.

The online posts, totaling more than 50 as of 11 p.m. Monday, are presented on a Tumblr blog titled “GUESS WHAT: We’ve Dropped Classes.” It was launched at 11 p.m. on Sunday, less than a week before the October 31st drop deadline for Fall Quarter. ASG’s executive board collaborated with various student groups to launch the blog, which contains perspectives from students and alumni.

“One of the big misconceptions is that everyone has their whole life and academic careers figured,” said SESP senior Austin Romero, ASG vice president for diversity and inclusion. “In reality, it’s very common that everyone drops a class in their Northwestern career.”

The content included mostly positive feedback regarding how dropping a class led to a healthier well-being for students, while not making a noticeable dent in their academic progress. However, there were also experiences with students who kept the classes, some for financial reasons, and were happy with the consequences.

Romero said NU tends to normalize the idea that students must take four classes each quarter though only three classes are needed to qualify as a full-time student. It is a standard that can be difficult for many students to balance with other activities and jobs, Romero said, adding he hopes the blog will dispel fear for students who cannot keep up.

“It’s about the greater situation of Northwestern revealing there is an unreasonable normative that we should be challenging,” said Weinberg senior Serene Darwish, ASG vice president of student activities.

Mental health was one particular issue Romero said was a concern for students with a difficult course load. One especially demanding class can have take a substantial toll on a student’s mental health, Romero said.

NU was ranked fifth on The Daily Beast’s 2012 list of most stressful universities.

“The number one importance is our mental health,” Romero said. “Academics is coming before our mental health, and that’s an issue.”

Although the blog targets students, Romero said the forum especially attempts to reach freshmen and sophomores who might not have the resources or knowledge to fully consider their decisions. Darwish, who also submitted to the blog, said when she was a freshman, she never expected she would drop a class, but now as a senior, she realized “it doesn’t make a big difference in the grand scheme.”

Romero said ultimately, the blog doesn’t intend to pressure students away or toward a certain mindset. Rather, it intends to be a “student narrative” of all opinions.

This quarter, NU Residential Services also shared an informative graphic about dropping a class, which included drop deadlines and factors to consider. Some Residential Assistants have also been sharing resources for students considering dropping a class.

SESP sophomore Nicole Romane, who is an RA for students in Bobb Hall and McCulloch Hall, placed a flowchart on whether a student should drop a class or not on her hallway bulletin board, which included references to tutoring programs such as Peer-Led Undergraduate Study.

“The past few weeks we had residents stopping in and texting about how to drop classes,” Romane said. “It should be something that the student is 100 percent comfortable with … If they aren’t comfortable, that’s when it could affect mental health.”

Editor’s note: The headline was updated for clarity at 12:39 a.m. on Oct. 28.

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