SGA initiative outlines academic changes across all majors

by Martha Schick / Beacon Staff • April 23, 2014

Kassandra King, vice president of SGA, said the 28-page initiative will be presented to academic administrators.
Kassandra King, vice president of SGA, said the 28-page initiative will be presented to academic administrators.

The Student Government Association approved a comprehensive initiative addressing student complaints about academics and calling for changes across the college.

According to Kassandra King, SGA vice president, SGA will send the initiative to department heads, academic advisors, Chief Academic Officer Michaele Whelan, and the financial aid office.

“A lot of what the initiative was asking for was to open a dialogue with SGA,” said the junior political communication major, “to have student voices be a part of those changes.”

The initiative called for changes to every major and to the general academic experience in a 28-page document. It is interspersed with student quotes, collected from an informal online survey, about the issues at hand.

One problem SGA addressed was a lack of classes and sections. Students in many majors reported worrying they would not be able to get all of their graduation requirements because the classes fill up too quickly during registration. One solution the document proposed was, for some departments, to restrict some upper-level courses to juniors and seniors only.

For students studying at Kasteel Well, the initiative said there were not enough major classes offered, specifically in the communication sciences and disorders, visual and media arts, and journalism departments.

SGA also asked to open a dialogue about the attendance policy, based on students’ complaints that their independence is not being respected. There are more specific concerns about attendance policies in performing arts classes; the initiative details cases of students having to retake a course because they were sick for a week.

The document also suggests reworking the registration process, including requiring more information in class descriptions and eliminating pin numbers.

SGA requested more workshops for the writing, literature, and publishing, VMA, performing arts, and journalism departments, and additional print credits for WLP and VMA majors in workshop classes.

The initiative asks for additional minors and concentrations in several departments, including a graphic design minor in marketing communication, a production minor in journalism, several more minors in VMA, and career concentrations within political communication.

It includes a request for VMA students to be able to double major, and for journalism students to have access to some WLP and VMA courses that are currently major restricted.

Outside of specific departments, SGA also asked for a general redesign of the first year writing program. Some changes include combining the semester-long courses Introduction to College Writing and Research Writing and tailoring them to a student’s major.

It calls for more challenging general education requirements with some relevance to specific areas of study. 

King said the purpose of the initiative is to start a conversation about possible changes and to have a written record of requests. She said as a next step, senators would be meeting with Whelan and department heads in order to discuss the changes for next semester.