Letters related to my HASS-D transfer credit appeal

Appeal denied by HASS Associate Dean

Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2004 13:02:04 -0400
To: _________@alum
From: C______ S______ ___
Subject: HASS-D credit for History Subject at Utah [nospam]

Dear A____,

I have reviewed the material you sent me and conferred with the History
Section about the process they followed in handling the transfer credit

As B____ D____ previously wrote to you, we rely on the Transfer Credit
Examiners to make the academic judgements about whether and what kind of
transfer credit should be given. I fully support the judgement they made
in your case. I'm sorry about that, but I don't see any basis to reverse it.

Yours truly,

C______ S______

Appeal sent up to Associate Dean of HASS

Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2004 14:00:42 -0600
From: "A____ _ J_____"
To: c_______, B____ D____
Subject: Fwd: HASS-D transfer credit appeal

Dear Associate Dean of SHASS:

Hello, I sent my appeal to www-shss@mit last
Tuesday, but I haven't gotten any replies regarding
it or a question I asked that address on Friday, so
I'm wondering if you've received my HASS-D transfer
credit appeal.

Parallel to the appeal, I'd also be interested in
getting SHASS approval of a petition to the COC
for a substitution regarding the HASS GIR at stake.
(I had such a petition disapproved by SHASS on its
way to the COC earlier this summer, but I had provided
less argument for my cause at that time; the COC has
not yet decided on that petition, to my knowledge.)

--A____ J_____
___ ID _________

----- Original Message -----

> Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004 10:40:08 -0600
> From: "A____ _ J_____" <_________@alum.mit.edu>
> To: www-shss@mit.edu
> Subject: HASS-D transfer credit appeal
> Hello,
> I'm attempting to graduate using a history class taken at the
> University of Utah this past spring for my last HASS-D slot.
> Please forward this message to the Associate Dean of the School
> of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, who the Director of
> the HASS Education Office instructed me is next in line in my
> appeals process.
> My appeal can be read at
> http://home. .net/~mit-comp/hist/appeal.htm#app1 ,
> and I've posted its denial by the Head of the History Faculty at
> http://home. .net/~mit-comp/hist/appeal.htm#app2 .
> Sincerely,
> A____ J_____

Appeal denied by Head of the History Faculty

Date: Fri, 13 Aug 2004 09:01:35 -0400
From: H______ R____
To: "A____ _ J_____"
Cc: m______, r____, m____, c_____,
b______, b_______
Subject: Re: HASS-D transfer credit appeal

Dear A____ J_____,

This is in response to your email of yesterday. I have reviewed your request,
including the materials that you have posted online, but I am afraid that there
are no grounds for reversing Professor R____'s decision. The underlying
problem is not simply a question of interpreting the so-called "mechanical
criteria" for HASS-D classes. These quantitative criteria are necessary for a
class to receive the HASS-D designation (or for a class taken elsewhere to
receive equivalent credit, in very unusual cases), but they are far from
sufficient. Before they are listed in the MIT subject catalog, HASS-D classes
are thoroughly scrutinized by the department in which they are offered, as well
as by the HASS Overview Committee, on a variety of qualitative grounds. When
students know in advance that they will want HASS-D credit for work done
elsewhere--for example when they are planning to take a semester or a year at a
foreign university--they normally discuss the options carefully with the TCE
(at least that is what they do in History), to make sure that they are not
disappointed after the fact.

Sincerely yours,
H______ R____

My appeal of the transfer credit decision for my history class

Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 12:47:37 -0600
From: "A____ _ J_____"
To: h______
Subject: HASS-D transfer credit appeal

Dear Professor H______ R____:

Hi, I'm looking to graduate with an 8B S.B. now, and everything is
in place except for HASS-D transfer credit for the history class
I took at the University of Utah this past spring. The class was
History 1020, Western Civilization Since 1300, taught by Professor
Ronald Smelser. The spring History TCE, Professor J. R____,
transferred the credit as 12 units general elective, and I'm
appealing that decision to you.

Last fall, when I was seeking a humanities class to fill my remaining
HASS requirement for a HASS-D of categories 3, 4, or 5, I got in touch
with the HASS office, and they gave me the General and Mechanical
Criteria for HASS-D subjects and clarified for me that I could not add
writing component assignments on my own--that they would have to be
required. I contacted the fall History TCE, and she told me that a
two-hour instead of a three-hour final would not be a problem per
meeting that element of the HASS-D criteria, and that, in addition
to the HASS-D criteria, a significant portion of the class reading
should be from primary sources. I registered to take History 1020,
and sent the syllabus to the History TCE; she told me that there was
a different History TCE for the spring and directed me to him.

The spring History TCE informed me of an additional criterion for
transfer credit in history subjects: that the history faculty does
not give HASS-D transfer credit for classes that do not precisely
match the subject matter of an MIT HASS-D class. I was into the
first week of classes by then, and, seeing that I could petition
the Committee on Curricula to substitute less-than-HASS-D transfer
credit for my remaining HASS-D slot, and as it seemed a good case
to do so, I decided to stay in the class (rather than switching
to intro. music comp.: intimidating here as you have to declare
yourself a music major to enroll).

Last Friday, I got e-mail from the Director of the HASS Education
Office that when my petition to the COC for a HASS requirement
substitution passed through her office they wrote a recommendation
to not approve on the petition. She said that rather than
petitioning for a substitution the right course for me would be to
appeal the decision of the TCE. When I countered that the
reason the TCE had given me for not transferring my history class
as the type of credit I need was that the class would need to
precisely match the subject matter of an MIT class to be transferred
as that type of credit and so I had interpreted this as a perfect
case for asking the COC for a HASS substitution, she responded that
a precise subject matter match was not a requirement for transferring
a class for HASS-D credit and that the TCE can write HASS-D credit on
the transfer form without writing a class number.

I got an A- in the class. The text was The Western Heritage, 8th
Edition, (Since 1300 Volume), by Donald Kagan. The assigned chapters
comprised 824 pages, including 121 embedded primary sources, each
covering about three-quarters of a page. Seven additional required
reading packets were handed out, comprising 136 pages; they are
listed at http://home. .net/~mit-comp/hist/add-reading.txt .
I've posted more information about the class--the information I
sent to the TCE--at http://home. .net/~mit-comp/#hist .

I ask that my class not be held to standards beyond those mentioned
by the HASS office and the fall History TCE when I was arranging to
take the class. Please have mercy on this long non-graduating fool
and grant my transfer credit request, on appeal.

A____ J_____
___ ID _________

For what it's worth for the benefit of the doubt, I passed AP
European History and AP American History with a 5 and a 4. They were
transferred to MIT as 9 units of general elective each. While
each alone didn't have quite enough in the way of written assignments
to meet the Writing Component of the HASS-D Criteria, together they
could be construed as sufficient for HASS-D credit.

I think this probably isn't relevant, but the reasons the spring TCE
gave me for transferring my credit as general elective rather than as
HASS-E were that "classes that rely on a big, omnibus survey text have
a hard time qualifying for HASS-E credit, much less HASS-D credit" and
that he was unimpressed by my Writing Component papers.

Pre-appeal messages from the Director of the HASS Education Office

Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2004 16:29:07 -0400
To: "A____ _ J_____"
From: B____ D____
Subject: Re: your petition for HASS-D credit

Dear A____,
I think there must be a misunderstanding, or miscommunication. In order
for a transfer subject to receive HASS-D credit at MIT, it does not have to
match one of our HASS-D courses in title and/or content. It just has to
meet the general and mechanical criteria for HASS-D subjects. The TCE can
write "HASS-D, Cat. 5," for instance, on the "Request for Additional
Credit" form; it is not necessary that there the transfer subject be
assigned an MIT course number.

If it is not clear to you why you did not receive HASS-D (or even
HASS-Elective) credit for this class, you probably should communicate
directly with Professor R____, the TCE who assigned unrestricted general
elective units.

B____ D____

Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2004 11:17:36 -0400
To: _________@alum
From: B____ D____
Subject: your petition for HASS-D credit
Cc: d_____, b_______, r____

Dear A____,

I had written the message you see below, then thought I should
double-check, to find out whether you may officially submit this type of
petition to the COC. I spoke with D___ M____ in the Registrar's Office,
who said "yes," although it is that committee's policy to follow the
recommendation of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences on
this kind of issue. I conferred with SHASS Associate Dean about this
petition, then forwarded it to the COC with a recommendation to "not

We assume the Transfer Credit Examiner in the respective discipline is the
expert for that field, and rely on the TCE's judgment. I am still sending
you the original message (although I am sending the petition to the COC,
NOT returning it to B____ C______ in Physics) because I think, practically
speaking, that is still the course you should take if you hope to get
HASS-D credit for this class.

I have tried to call you several times the last few days, but have always
gotten either a busy signal or no answer (and no answering machine). I'm
sorry, because I know this is not the news you were hoping to hear. Feel
free to email or call me with further questions.

Best wishes,
B____ D____

Dear A____,

Firstly, I apologize for this late response. I have been away from 7/7-31,
and found your petition in my mail when I returned to the office Monday.

There is apparently some misunderstanding; this is not a matter that you
can petition. HASS transfer credit is granted by the appropriate HASS
Transfer Credit Examiner (TCE), a faculty member in the field who has been
appointed to take on that responsibility. The class in question is a
History class; I see in your academic record in MITSIS that you have
received 12 units of general, unrestricted elective units (i.e., not HASS)
credit for that course. If you believe that you should receive a different
kind of credit (in this case, HASS-D), your only option is to contact the
History TCE with a grade report from the University of Utah, all the course
materials, and the "Request for Additional Credit" form on which the
original transfer credit was approved. The TCE would probably have to have
new and/or additional information in order to change his or her
decision. If that happens, the TCE would cross out the original
designation (general elective credit), write in "HASS-D, Cat. 5," and
initial it. You would then submit the revised form to the Registrar's Office.

HASS TCEs are appointed for the academic year--fall and spring terms--only;
thus, there is no one on duty in the summer. I don't know who approved
your transfer credit, but I would guess Prof. J___ R____, who was the TCE
for History in Spring 2004. Whoever approved it would have to approve the
change, but you cannot expect that it will happen this summer; you might
have to wait until the beginning of fall term.

I am returning your petition with accompanying materials to B____ C______
in the Physics Office, who sent them to me. You should contact the TCE
with the "Request for Additional Credit" form* and the materials. (*I
assume that form is in the Registrar's Office now. You could get a xerox
copy of it.) Let me just add that if you are dissatisfied with the
decision of a TCE, you would then contact the Head of that unit--in this
case, the Head of the History Faculty. If you want to pursue it further
(i.e., if you are dissatisfied with the decision of the Faculty Head), next
in line would be the Associate Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and
Social Sciences. I wrote at the beginning of my message that this is not
a matter that you can petition. Petitions go to one of the Institute
committees--COC, CUP, or CAP, usually. None of those committees can decide
to grant HASS-D credit for a transfer class.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear, or if you have any further
questions. You can call me if you'd like; I will be in my office tomorrow
morning, for instance, from 9-11:45. Generally, I'm here M-F, 9-5, except

Best wishes,
B____ D____

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