I wasn’t even on campus for 24 hours before I started hearing about the changes to the Rome semester application process.
“Did you hear that they changed the Rome policy?” several people exclaimed. “You can’t pick which semester you want to go anymore!”
Needless to say, the reaction to this news has been mostly negative, with many students nervous that the alleged elimination of the option to choose between attending fall or spring Rome will be a huge blight on the whole University of Dallas experience.
I must confess, I too was affected by the hysteria, at least at first. Considering that there are several differences between attending Rome in the fall or spring, and that usually students do have a preference for one or the other, this news did shock me a bit.
Upon further inspection, it seems that the uproar is a bit ill-considered. In reality, very little will be changing.
First of all, the updated policy is not a surprise. There’s a very specific reason for the change; namely, that the current fall Rome class is unusually small due to a shortage of applications for this fall and a surplus of applications for next spring. This imbalance means fewer students will be able to go to Rome.
The administration issued a statement that, in order to fix the problem, “rather than apply to ‘fall Rome’ or ‘spring Rome,’ students will now apply for the academic year in which they wish to attend a Rome semester (i.e. 2016-2017).”
Does this mean students will have no choice over which semester they go to Rome? That is unlikely. There will still be the option on the application for students to indicate their preferred semester. If too many eligible students prefer one semester, some will be deferred to the other so as to avoid the imbalance that occurred this year.
But how, you may ask, will the Rome office decide who will get to attend in their preferred semester and who will not? We can’t know for sure, since it hasn’t happened yet, but we can assume the process will be based on several factors, such as whether or not the student has any obstacles to one semester or the other (based on major or athletic involvement). A poor disciplinary record or a low GPA could also be reasons for inability to fulfill someone’s preference.
Assuming this is how the process will take effect, the new policy is not really that different from how things were before. In the older arrangement, if too many students applied for fall, then some would be deferred to the spring. No problems there. But if the spring applicant pool was top-heavy, then problems would begin to arise – as they did this year – because you can’t defer people back in time.
The updated application process fixes these problems, and will hopefully, as the administration claims, “make Rome available to all eligible students” without destroying the element of choice between the semesters.
I’ll admit that the statement released by the administration could have been more tactful in its prose. This lack of tact, however, scared more people than it should have. But we can all take a deep breath and rest easy knowing that the new Rome application process is an improvement and not a detriment to what many consider the highlight of their UD experience.