Degree change upsets seniors

College of Technology students went before the Student Government Association on Wednesday with complaints that changes to their degree plans were unfair and prevented them from graduating.

Computer engineering technology seniors David Harden and Yan Fung said they took a two-section senior-project course concurrently one semester after the college changed it to a two-semester course. The students said they were not asked to sign a degree plan when they declared their majors and that they were given insufficient warning about the change.

Harden and Fung brought their grievance to SGA Sen. Van Hua, who lobbied on their behalf to SGA Speaker Alexander Obregon, President Sam Dike and Vice President Jonas Chin.

‘We’re trying to find an official in the college to address the issue,’ Hua said. ‘Some of the officials are trying to give them the runaround.’

Fung said no standardized form of notice was given and he only heard of the change by chance.

‘Some people got notice, some people got no notice,’ Fung said. ‘I got some notice because I happened to be in the right class at the right time.’

Harden said he would lose the work that he’s done on his senior project when the new degree plan is enforced.

‘It pushed my graduation date back by a semester,’ Harden said. ‘I’ve already started a project team, and we’ve already started formulating ideas. They’re wanting to break my team up and have me start a whole new team while my three teammates get somebody out of the blue to take credit for my and their work.’

Harden and Fung are not the only computer engineering technology students faced with this problem, but they said they are the only ones speaking up.

‘A lot of students are afraid to come forward because their grade could be affected,’ Harden said.

Obregon said that given the way the course is graded, he understands why more students aren’t contesting the change.

‘This is a problem that’s affecting a lot more students than came up,’ Obregon said. ‘Thirty percent of their grade depends on a teacher’s judgment, so these two represent 10-12 other students.’

The problem could have been avoided, Dike said, if the terms of the degree had been written in an official agreement.

‘One of the problems you see is that signing up for your major should mean that you are signing a degree plan, and that wasn’t the case in this situation,’ Dike said. ‘These students are having to shift degree plans.’

SGA resolved to contact William Fitzgibbon, the dean of the College of Technology, in hopes of solving the problem for Fung, Harden and future computer engineering technology students.

‘(We hope) these students are able to graduate on time,’ Obregon said. ‘And in the future students will have degree plans that are signed.’

Fitzgibbon said the course was changed to keep up with the rapidly changing field, and of the 104 seniors in the computer engineering technology program, only a dozen were possibly affected.

‘We made this decision based on industry feedback,’ Fitzgibbon said. ‘Technology constantly changes, and we thought the students were better served with the new course.’

Advisers were instructed to work with students on a case-by-case basis, and no one will be forced to take another semester, Fitzgibbon said.

‘If there are remaining problems, we’ll fix them,’ Fitzgibbon said.

Additional reporting by Patricia Estrada

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