Is it time for the Dean’s List Dinner to change?

Some students believe the Dean's List dinner is elitist, adn the requirements for making the Dean's List too demanding. (Lauren Hoyt/AQ)

The annual St. Thomas University Dean’s List dinner draws in tables of students to enjoy a meal and live music while faculty commend them for their achievements.

But some students find the Dean’s List requirements too heavy and the dinner exclusionary to those who didn’t achieve the marks.

The dinner is open by invitation only to students who received a 3.7 or higher grade point average on a 4.3 scale over a minimum of 30 credit hours. Placement on the Dean’s List is based on student’s marks from the previous school year.

Kayla Doody, a fourth-year human rights and political science student, had a negative experience with the Dean’s List. Doody transferred to STU from Memorial University in Newfoundland during the 2017-18 school year. She only needed to take four classes her first semester or 12 credit hours, a total of 27 credit hours for the entire year. When Doody signed up for the classes, she didn’t realize it would cost her a spot on the list.

“When it came time to qualify for Dean’s List, I didn’t, because you have to have full credit hours both semesters,” said Doody.

She said she would’ve taken the fifth class if she’d known it was required to make the Dean’s List.

“I wish I had known that before I had made that decision.”

Doody thinks the dinner is a nice idea, but believes it’s elitist.

“I think the dinner is a great idea because for a lot of students, they might never get the opportunity during the school year to dress up and do something fun like that with their friends,” said Doody.

“But it’s definitely elitist in a sense in that it is a dinner and only so many are invited and especially when the restrictions are really brutal in terms of your grade point average and the courses you take and, you know, not all students are able to do that.”

Monica Boucher, a fourth-year communications student, has made the Dean’s List every year since her first year. She thinks it’s good for the school to host the dinner, but does believe it’s elitist.

“I think it is elitist, however, I think that’s a good thing. I think that intelligence and hard work should be rewarded,” said Boucher in a Facebook message.

But Boucher thinks some changes could be made to improve the dinner.

“I would do the first or second week [of the school year] because we aren’t swamped with homework at that time,” said Boucher. The event is usually held in November.

Boucher also thinks the classes students take should be taken into consideration.

“There are some classes people take just to get an A and I don’t think that deserves recognition,” said Boucher.

Boucher said the meal at the dinner could also be improved and the event could be more entertaining for students.

“The dinner is never good, the menu should be given in advance. The vegetarian meal is rough and I feel there should be more for us to do, like a photo booth with the balloons or something,” she said.

Jeffrey Carleton, spokesperson for STU, said this is the first time the school has ever heard complaints of the dinner being elitist.

“This is the first time that we’ve heard that particular perspective,” said Carleton.

Carleton points out St. Thomas is structured like many universities, with a Bachelor of Arts degree requiring completion of 120 credit hours, typically spread out over four years. Carleton recognized not all students complete 120 credit hours in four years, and some complete it in less time.

“It’s structured that way both from tradition, and because of approaches to teaching that help to develop the student over four years,” said Carleton.

Carleton believes students who make the Dean’s List deserve to be celebrated.

“If a university degree is a distinct and higher degree, a Dean’s List is achievement at the highest level for our core function, which is an academic education,” said Carleton, “Our perspective is surely we can celebrate those students who are very high academic achievers and celebrate their accomplishments.”

Carleton said the university understands some students handling physical and mental health concerns, family obligations and work cannot carry 30 credit hours a semester or attain the 3.7 GPA required for the Dean’s List.

Although STU celebrates students who achieve high academic standing, the university understands every student and their experiences are unique.

“That also doesn’t mean that you don’t recognize every student is distinct and every individual student has an individual circumstance,” said Carleton.

Carleton said the university has no plans to change the requirements to the Dean’s List.