OPINION | Butler keeps autonomy through transfer rules

Senate Bill 182 will not, should not change Butler’s autonomy and academic integrity.

The rhetoric and actions of Indiana legislators surely can prevent people from believing our elected officials will pass a bill with unanimous support.

But the day before Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the controversial right-to-work bill into law, the Indiana Senate passed Senate Bill 182 by a vote of 50-0.

If passed by the house, the bill will create a common credit transfer policy for state universities.

While some students might hope this law would at least have faculty and administration at Butler re-examine the university’s transfer policies, I do not think that discussion needs to take place.

The bill, introduced by State Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, is intended to increase the amount of credits that can be transferred among all public educational institutions in Indiana.

If the bill is signed into law, the Commission for Higher Education is tasked with creating a common course numbering system for general education courses at all public Indiana institutions by May 15, 2013.

“Unfortunately, the numbering system and acceptance guidelines are different for each school, making the system for transfer students harder to navigate. A less complicated and more universal system would allow students to easily identify where and how their credits transfer,” Sen. Banks said.

Associate Provost Mary Macmanus Ramsbottom knows that this bill is common practice and legislation like this has been enacted elsewhere.

She also said she believes this will have no influence on the private institutions.

“The faculty is the gate-keeper with respect to quality of the course and making sure the credits that are awarded are equivalent to Butler credits,” Ramsbottom said. “They are helping to ensure a Butler degree is a degree of integrity.”

At first, I thought this bill might indirectly affect Butler and force the institution to examine its own transfer policies.
But while Butler is generous with the transfer credit hours it accepts compared to other private institutions, it will not change the policy because of this.

“The transfer policy stands for fundamental principles of what the Butler degree is,” Ramsbottom said. “The policy sticks for quite a while.”

Sophomore political science major Luke Bunting said that the transfer process to Butler was confusing and had to keep calling offices to make sure all the paperwork was being processed.

“I had taken 15 credit hours at my previous university, [and] only a few transferred to Butler,” he said.

But Luke notes that his transfer to Butler was mainly about how Butler was going to be a great fit for him. Even though the transfer policy makes it difficult for some incoming students, I think we would all agree to continue to hold a Butler degree to a high standard.

That is one of the main reasons why I think we enroll at a private institution.

It is the prerogative of the state legislatures to impose new laws onto state funded institutions, and SB 182 demonstrates that right. But we should not expect to see any directly or indirect impact because we are independent from those laws.

I agree with Ramsbottom and believe that Butler, along with all private institutions, should have the privilege of what their transfer policy is since it reflects the institution.

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