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Student and faculty leaders yesterday had mixed reactions to a new requirement forcing upperclassmen to declare a major before registering for next semester's courses. While most supported the idea of encouraging students to declare, they criticized the College of Arts and Science's new deadline -- set for the end of this week -- as an unconstructive policy. Although College of Arts and Sciences policy states that students must declare a major by the end of their sophomore year, that policy has not been systematically enforced, according to Kent Peterman, executive assistant to the dean. Peterman said the restriction was implemented in the wake of a discovery that approximately 800 juniors and seniors -- more than 20 percent of the two classes -- had not yet declared. He added that postponing the declaration of a major is damaging to students' academic planning. "That leaves less than two years in which they can throw themselves into a course of study," Peterman said. But just because students have not declared their majors does not mean they have not chosen an area of study. Many said they fulfilled the courses for a major but have not registered with the appropriate department. Student Committee on Undergraduate Education member Hallie Levin said most students know what they want to study and the University should enforce registration. She added that declaring a major is not as intimidating a decision as some students think. "When you declare your major, you're not declaring your life's occupation," said the College junior, who is on SCUE's steering committee. "If you end up miserable with what you've chosen, the school is not going to say you can't change it." But most students seemed upset with the method of enforcement, not the policy itself. SCUE Chairperson David Kaufman said the large number of students who are undeclared signals a defect in the University's advising system, and the problem could have been better handled by requiring that students without majors see advisors. "I think the idea of the policy is a good one to make people have to make choices and plan out their education, but the way they did it is very questionable," said the Wharton senior. "It's an example of the way the University uses the stick rather than the carrot." But Melvyn Hammarberg, undergraduate chairperson of the American Civilization department, said the registration restriction gives administrators a good opportunity to catch up with students who have not yet declared. "It is certainly one place where it is possible to intervene in the process and therefore guarantee that a student who has not yet declared a major is going to talk to someone about it," he said. "It's pretty hard otherwise to try calling up everyone on the telephone or going through their records. It's kind of a checkpoint." Undergraduate Assembly Chairperson Mitch Winston said he feels students should be able to make academic plans on their own timetable. The College junior said the UA Steering Committee will discuss the issue at its meeting this week. The College will make exceptions to the requirement if students fill out a form in the College office explaining why they are unable to declare a major.

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