The recent end of the 87 Texas Legislature brought forward the passage of Senate Bill 165, or SB 165, pertaining to student q-drops.
SB 165 allows for q-drops occurring during the pandemic to not count toward the limited amount of q-drops at a university.
“An institution of higher education may not count toward the number of courses permitted to be dropped under Subsection (c) or a policy adopted under Subsection (d) a course dropped by a student during the 2020 spring semester or summer term or the 2020-2021 academic year because of a var or limit on in-person course attendance at the institution during the applicable semester or term due to the [COVID-19] pandemic,” the bill reads.
Political science professor Anthony Ives said this bill's wording may create confusion pertaining to how universities could apply the meaning.
“Specific wording in the bill which states that the exemption applies to courses dropped ‘because of a bar or limit on in-person course attendance at the institution during the applicable semester or term due to the coronavirus disease [COVID-19] pandemic,’ means that the bill's implementation will be challenging,” Ives said.
Texas A&M has not yet announced how they will handle q-drops from previous semesters affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the conversation has begun within the Faculty Senate about how this could affect students, according to Faculty Senate Speaker Dale Rice.
“The university permits you to have five [institutional q-drops] over all,” Rice said. “If you took three during the pandemic, those three would no longer count against the five [according to the legislation].”
Rice sent a poll to members of the Faculty Senate, of which 30 of the 42 respondents were in favor of allowing the students to have the pandemic related q-drops not count against university allotment.
Over the past four semesters, Rice said students in his own classes have been affected by the pandemic in a variety of ways, including being ill themselves or having to care for family members who were ill.
“I had one class over the course of the semester, six students had COVID[-19] at different times,” Rice said. “It affected them very differently – a couple of those students didn't even miss class.”
Rice said he believes SB 165 could be beneficial to students greatly affected by circumstances beyond their control.
“When it comes to these q-drops, in reality, they are very much a personal academic decision of each student looking at it and saying, ‘Were there extenuating circumstances that prevented me from maintaining this class and doing it well, or did I just screw off and not really pay attention to things and I didn't get a good grade so I'm going to take the q-drop?’” Rice said.