29 Mar GS 1983 art 50
GS 1983 ARTICLE 50 – Theological College-Academic Standards
Synod enters into closed session to deal with a letter from the Church at Hamilton re Academic Standards. and the appeal of br. W.B Slomp re Standards at the Theological College.
Committee Ill presents:
– Agenda VIII, A. 2, d. and J, 14.
- a. Letter of the Church at Hamilton re Academic Standards.
- b. Appeal of b . W.B. Slomp re Standards at the Theological College.
- 1. a. The Church at Hamilton appeals the decision of the Board of Governors of the Theological College regarding “the implementation of a new academic standard for our Theological College.”
- b. The Consistory at Hamilton has appealed to the Board of Governors in September, 1982. “not to implement the new standards for students who were already admitted and studying at the Theological College.” The Board of Governors did not adopt the recommendation, but only postponed its implementation for one year.
- c. The Consistory at Hamilton does not oppose the new academic standard of a weighted average, but strongly disapproves of the way in which this new standard was applied. Hamilton feels that “truth and justice” demand that students who are admitted on a certain basis, be allowed to finish their studies on that basis. The Consistory considers the implementation of this new standard for existing students to have been done in “an unfair and unethical manner.” The Consistory considers the application of the new rule to be a sign of “crisis diplomacy” which is not fair and consistent.
- d. The Consistory appeals to Synod “to correct the injustice done thus far by charging the Board of Governors and the Senate of our Theological College: “to implement the new academic standard of a weighted 65% average in a consistent and just manner, that is, to apply it only to new students entering the College and not to change the standards in midstream for those who were admitted under previous standards, and to make this correction retroactive to the 1982-1983 academic year, when the new standard went into effect.” “Ground: Truth and justice require that one keep his word and if the Theo logical College admits a student to a program of theological studies on a certain basis, that basis must apply for the complete program of studies.”
- 2. a. On the basis of Articles 21 and 25 of the Constitution of the Theological College, br. W.B. Slomp appeals the decision of the Senate and the Board of Governors to terminate his studies at the College after three years because he “did not attain the newly required 65% average.”
- b. Br. Slomp considers the above mentioned decision to have been made un fairly and on the basis of incomplete and incorrect information.
- c. Br. Slomp offers the following information/comments on the letter of the Boar9 of Governors (September 12 , 1983) in which the decision not to grant him permission to proceed further in his studies is maintained:
- i He did not respond earlier to the Board’s maintaining of the 65% weighted average, not because he approved of that regulation , but because he did not consider it possible to appeal to the Governors until their meeting the following year. He also feared that another appeal would lead to deterioration in his relationship with the Faculty.
- ii He was not really given “a fighting change” to upgrade his marks, because (with the unfinished assignments of the previous year and the demands of the new academic year) the workload was too heavy for him.
- iii The Faculty claims that br. Slomp ignored previous communications with him on various occasions regarding certain deficiencies, but br. Slomp feels that the Faculty “must be mistaken” on this point and that the question of his suitability for the ministry became an issue only after the policy was enacted “that the 65% be strictly maintained ” Br. Slomp complains that in this respect there was a terrible “lack of communication” between the Faculty and himself.
- iv The Faculty did not consider his 82% average at the university to be of significance, because it was obtained while not carrying a full academic workload, to which br. Slomp agrees, but he points also to the difficulty factor of the courses involved and to an extra course taken outside of the university, as well as to a present A- average on a 120% course load at the university, to show that his average elsewhere is quite acceptable.
- v The Faculty rejects br. Slomp’s reference to the practice in other universities (re established academic standards) by referring to the calling of the Board of Governors to consider only the well-being of the Canadian Reformed Churches, but br. Slomp feels that at a Christian College, where Christian principles prevail, a change of standards in midstream is certainly unethical. He feels that he should have been given another year to raise his average. if the 65% would be maintained, as was done in the case of another student.
- 1. a. When the Church at Hamilton states that students who are admitted “on a certain basis be allowed to finish their studies on that basis.” it should be noted that such an approach would mean that for a period of four years no changes in academic matters and requirement could be made respecting that particular class, no matter how desirable and necessary.
- b. The Church at Hamilton does not prove that students were admitted to the College on the basis of a predetermined and unchangeable average, hence there is no substance to the ground of the Church at Hamilton.
- c. The Faculty has made certain accommodations in the past to the students with respect to the academic standards (e.g. waived the rule that students can not write exams in a new academic year without having completed the work of the previous academic year) and these are not appealed; however, it is surprising that an appeal is sent when academic standards are upgraded out of necessity and for the benefit of the Churches.
- d. It is apparent that the Board of Governors and Faculty realizing that the academic standard was raised in the middle of an academic year, decided to postpone the implementation of their decision to the following academic year, and thereby gave the students ample opportunity to raise their marks and to adjust themselves to the upgraded standard. Therefore, the new standard was introduced in a fair and considerate manner.
- 2. a. Br. W.B. Slomp bases his appeal to Synod on Article XXI, XXV of the Constitution of the Theological College. It should be stated, however, that with the passing of the Canadian Reformed Theological College Act , 1981, the Constitution has been superseded and no longer has any ecclesiastical or legal standing. Even if the Constitution was still in force, it does not grant br. Slomp a right of appeal on academic matters to the General Synod based on Article XXI which refers to “disciplinary action” and not to academic appeal. Article XXV of the Constitution is, in this respect, open to a broader interpretation, and can be considered to leave the way clear to an appeal in academic issues.
- b. Considering the fact that the College is in a transition period with respect to the Act, By-Laws and Regulations vis-a-vis the Constitution, it would be improper to dismiss this appeal on technical grounds.
- c. With respect to the information offered by br. Slomp, the following should be considered:
- i A student need not wait one year to appeal to the Board of Governors, since he should be aware that the Board of Governors is a continuing, decision-making body. With respect to br. Slomp ‘s fear that another appeal would lead to a deterioration of his relationship with the Faculty, it should be noted that the Faculty h ad previously assured him. as he stated in his letter of September 7. 1982, that ” an appeal would not be held against him personally” and further , that in principia l matters one should not be guided by fear but by conviction.
- ii When br. Slomp was given the opportunity by the Board of Governors to continue his studies, despite the existing regulation that all course work of a previous year had to be finished before one can write exams in the next year. this does not mean that the Faculty acted unjustly by asking him in the new year to complete all the assignments of the previous and the current year . That thereby the workload became too heavy for br. Slomp can not be blamed on the Faculty.
- iii Br. Slomp states that the Faculty has not spoken to him on various occasions regarding his deficiencies; however, the Board of Governors is convinced that the Faculty has sufficiently refuted this charge and made many attempts to communicate with him regarding his academic deficiencies before and after the implementation of the new standard. Br. Slomp him self records one such attempt in his letter of September 1982.
- iv Whatever grades a student may receive at a university or other institution has absolutely no bearing on the grades received at another institution .
- v While a change of standards in midstream is certainly not desirable, this does not make it illegal or unethical (cf. Considerations 1). It should be noted that when br. Slomp cites the case of another student receiving an extra year in order to raise his average, he neglects to mention that he himself has already received such a privilege in the year 1982-1983, but failed to improve his academic performance sufficiently.
Synod decides :
- 1. not to accede to the appeal of the Church at Hamilton;
- 2. not to accede to the appeal of br. W. B. Slomp. The Recommendations D, 1 and 2 are ADOPTED.