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40 students withdrawn from class without notice

On Wed., Feb. 4, 40 students were suddenly dropped from all of their classes and told that they were no longer enrolled at Mills College. Because this date was the add deadline for courses, these students needed to petition a Mills committee in order to be reinstated.

Junior Danishta Rivero was one student to experience what the M Center calls “Withdrawal without Notice.”

“I found out I had been withdrawn when I did not have access to the Prieto Lab with my ID,” Rivero said. “I checked my schedule and all my classes were gone.”

According to David Gin, associate vice president for Student Finance and Administrative Services and director of Financial Aid, students are officially withdrawn from the College if they have not properly cleared their accounts and confirmed their semester attendance by the check-in deadline. This year that deadline was Jan. 20.

Being withdrawn means that the College no longer considers them Mills students; they are droped from their classes and their ID cards are deactivated.

To clear their accounts, students must have paid or arranged payment for the upcoming semester’s expenses by a certain date; once they have done that, the system allows them to complete the online check-in forms.

Rivero acknowledged that she didn’t meet the deadline, but said this was due to some financial aid issues that prevented her from completing the check-in process.

She said that because the M Center gave her a different answer each time she asked about how much she owed Mills for the spring semester, she could not make the payment arrangements necessary to clear her account and allow her to check in.

She learned that the Emergency Bridge Loan she had taken out in the fall had been reversed for unknown reasons. When she finally did receive a definitive answer about how much she needed to pay, she said the amount the M Center staff told her was $4,000 off.

Eventually, the mistake with Rivero’s Bridge Loan turned out to be a technical glitch and she received the loans she needed for both the fall and spring semesters. However, she was already dropped from her classes.

Gin said that warning letters were sent to the roughly 100 students who had not been cleared for and completed web check-in on myMills about one week before the deadline.

Mills gave those students until the Tuesday before the fall registration deadline to resolve the issues that had kept them from

Gin said the M Center hadn’t used the warning letters before he worked there, but that he instituted the system to reduce the number of students who found themselves in situations like Rivero’s.

Rivero, however, said that she never received any such letter, and would have taken action sooner if she had.

“I would have done everything in my power to prevent [this] from happening,” she said.

After finding out that she had been dropped, Rivero said she e-mailed all of her professors to explain her situation.

“Most of them were aware of my financial difficulties from last semester,” she said. “They were all very supportive and allowed me to continue attending classes while I sorted everything out.”

After the add deadline passes, the M Center no longer has the authority to reinstate students, Gin said. He explained that cases like Riveros’ have been taken to the Academic Standing Committee (ASC).

The faculty members who comprise the ASC meet every semester to review student records and coursework, and students must petition the Committee when they need to request an exception to academic policy or procedure, according to the Mills undergraduate catalog.

Rivero said she filled out paperwork for the Academic Standing Committee, including a written description of her situation
She also sent an e-mail to student news, asking other students who had been withdrawn without notice to contact her so they could help each other work through the situation.

These other students, she said, included her friend Carrie Heath, a sophomore, who was withdrawn because of technical complications.
“She had already made a down payment but could not print the receipt, so they withdrew her,” Rivero said. “She lives on campus, so [that] was an added problem.”

Gin said he believes that all the students who were withdrawn without notice for the spring semester, for whatever reason, were successfully reinstated.