Student senate continues to push fall break proposal

By Megan Webster | 11/13/17 12:12am

GVL Hannah Hill Student Senate had a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 28th, 2017. Guest speakers Santiago Gayton and Chief Renee Freeman were invited to join them in talking about key issues at Grand Valley.

The Grand Valley State University student senate continued to discuss the progress of the fall break proposal at its general assembly Thursday, Nov. 9. At its previous meeting Thursday, Nov. 2, student senate voted in favor of the mid-semester break, and the proposal was presented to the University Academic Senate Executive Board on Friday, Nov. 3. 

At the most recent senate meeting, Jonathan Bowman, GVSU student senate president, said the conversation at the Executive Board meeting was split roughly 50/50 in favor of and opposed to the fall break. 

“There were some mixed feelings about it,” Bowman said. “There were two separate thought processes going on. One was that we want to decide whether or not this is a good idea. There were the people in the room that just wanted to vote or decide whether or not fall is something that could work, and if it was, we could figure out how it could work. I would say the other half of the room, they wanted to know exactly how it would affect students before they voted 'yes' or 'no' on it.”

Bowman said the conversation lasted for about another hour with both sides of the room chiming in with their thoughts on the proposal. At the end of the meeting, it was decided that the issue would be tabled until the individuals in the room could talk with their respective departments. That way, the individuals who are representatives on the Executive Board could get a feel for what other faculty members think about a fall break. 

Bowman did return to a meeting with the University Academic Senate on Friday, Nov. 10, to hear what the members of the Executive Board had to say about the tabled proposal from the previous week. Bowman suspects that the proposal will move to a task force for a decision. 

“That was mentioned last Friday, and that’s something that I hope happens because I think that would be the most beneficial in moving this along instead of just talking about it and not doing anything,” Bowman said. “I hope that they are going to create a task force, and then I’ll be a part of it and other people from the University Academic Senate and bringing together those different parts that are affected by it.”

Bowman said at this point in the proposal process, he is currently gathering evidence and data from different people and organizations on campus to make the case for fall break even stronger. 

“That was something that was brought up, is like, ‘What is the actual support of this by the students? Do we actually need it?'" Bowman said. "So, I have reached out to the Dean of Students Office to get some data on care reporting because care reports have doubled this year in October, which I think is very significant, and then also the Counseling Center and reaching out to see if appointments have increased at the end of October and beginning of November and things like that.”

Kevin Chui, chair of senate resources, said the need for a fall break comes from the long span of time after Labor Day without any days off and the general heavy workload that students experience during this time of year, both of which can have a serious impact on a student.

“Students are given two days off right after the first week of school and go nonstop for over two months until Thanksgiving Break,” Chui said. “This can prove very detrimental to the mental health of a student. On top of (stress factors) that include studying for exams, preparing projects and presentations, leading student organizations, and working, students may also feel burnt out and not know where to start with tackling these things.”

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