UAS votes no fall break, approves student seats
The University Academic Senate voted Friday against implementing a fall break at Grand Valley State University, but it easily approved to allow graduate students a seat with voting rights on university governance committees.
The UAS voted 24-17 against the break as it decided to keep the current academic calendar.
The idea for a fall break was first introduced by the Student Senate after a survey found that 86.3 percent of the more than 1,300 student respondents thought a break would help reduce stress levels and improve academic performance.
Wayne Kinzie, associate director of the Counseling and Career Development Center, said there is a sharp increase in student visits to the CCDC in mid-October. Many GVSU students experience higher levels of stress and anxiety during this time, which coincides with midterms.
Kinzie said a two-day break could help ease stress levels and improve students’ overall mental health.
However, the Academic Policies and Standards Committee of the UAS stated in a memo that it was concerned that several of the survey questions written by the Student Senate were biased toward the benefits of a fall break, with little recognition of potential problems.
“We went over every possible rearrangement of the schedule multiple times and had complications with all of them,” said Lori Koste, interim chair of the APSC.
The committee explored several options, including having a two-day fall break and two days off before Thanksgiving, or having the entire Thanksgiving week off from school. These options would also mean adding an extra week of classes in December or starting a week earlier in August.
“I don’t think adding in a few days of break is worth having to go an extra week at Christmas or in the summer,” said Josh Greene, a senior at GVSU. “I don’t mind the schedule as it is now.”
Creating a fall break would lower the number of complete weeks in the fall semester to 12, whereas the winter semester has 14. One of the main concerns of the APSC was how to fit lab courses and clinical exams into these shortened weeks.
In its memo, the APSC included information for eleven schools in Michigan that were examined. Seven of these schools were found to have no fall break.The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan Technological University, Eastern Michigan University and Northern Michigan University were determined as having a fall break.
GRAD STUDENTS GET SEATS
Graduate students make up about 13 percent of the total student body at GVSU. These students did not have any representation on university governance committees until Friday, when the UAS voted to approve extra seats on the committees to be reserved for graduate students.
The resolution, which was introduced by Student Senate, was passed with just one opposing vote. Prior to the UAS meeting, university governance committees only had one chair reserved for students, which were occupied by undergraduates appointed by the Student Senate.
The new seats will have full voting rights and will be reserved for graduate students selected by the Graduate Student Association and officially appointed by the Student Senate.
Graduate students will now serve on the following committees: the APSC, the Faculty Facilities Planning Advisory Committee, the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center Advisory Committee and the University Assessment Committee.
The original resolution was amended to exclude the Faculty Salary and Budget Committee from adding an extra student seat after the committee stated opposition to the resolution.
“This wasn’t just about graduate students having a voice,” said Jeffrey Potteiger, dean of Graduate Studies. “This was about everyone having a voice here at Grand Valley.”