Though the University Academic Senate may seem like a faculty-only affair, students can make some positive progress if they become part of the conversation, too
For the University Academic Senate here at Grand Valley State University, last year was a big one. In the 2011-2012 academic year, UAS managed to kick-start a new religious studies program, recommended to the Provost to accept a revised General Education program, voted to cancel classes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and reduced the number of personnel reviews professors must undergo before being considered for tenure.
I know here at the Lanthorn, we are supposed to be against the man, so we’re sorry if this makes us sound lame – but these changes are not easy to make, and they will, in both short-term and in the long-run, benefit the students, faculty and staff at GVSU. So don’t let them float in your peripherals – become part of the conversation.
Student Senate, for example, came to UAS proposing a fall break that would put GVSU in line with many other public colleges and universities in Michigan and now, Cory DiCarlo, vice chair, said UAS is putting it on the table for discussion this year; along with, he said, 40 to 50 main changes to work on this school year.
As a student, workloads can seem insurmountable, and even unfair at times– but imagine having 40-50 big papers to write each year. True, UAS has more than just one undergrad on its side, but there’s something to be said for that kind of focus.
In the article published on A1 of this issue of the Lanthorn, UAS chair Figen Mekik said there’s still room for improvement – but it rests on the engagement of the faculty and students here on campus.
“There is always room for improvement,” Mekik told the Lanthorn. “The biggest improvement would be more engagement from faculty and students in issues [the] senate takes up. Everyone is welcome to our meetings, and not only is external input valued at the senate, often times it is necessary. So please get involved.”
We know we sound like the hippie kid on campus who doesn’t wear shoes outdoors, but forward motion and positive change relies first and foremost on the student body. You can’t say you don’t like something and not do anything to change it – apathy is progress’ worst enemy.
So if you don’t like the changes to the General Education program, or if you think there’s a department on campus that doesn’t get enough attention from the university – it’s up to you to bring that discussion to the table. Who knows, play your cards right, and there might be one less week of classes to cramp your style.