Student Senate Report- Oct. 21, 2020

Provost Donald DeHayes and Vice Provost Anne Veeger visited Student Senate’s meeting last night to discuss plans for next semester, alternative grading options and diversity on campus.

DeHayes and Veeger spent much of their time taking questions from Senators about these matters.

According to DeHayes, next semester will likely be similar to the current semester’s mix of online and in-person classes, but there will be fewer asynchronous classes due to negative student feedback about them.

“We are working to create more [online classes] in a synchronous format, because students have told us that that is a more palatable and desirable format,” DeHayes said.

DeHayes also emphasized that these plans are not yet set in stone, as the University’s situation will change as infection rates on campus, across the state and across the country change.

There are currently no plans in place to offer an alternative satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading system this semester, according to DeHayes. He said that even if this were the case, it would not be under the jurisdiction of the Provost. The University allowed students to choose either traditional letter grades or satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading last semester due to the shift to remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We did mention [to the Faculty Senate] of your interest in this, but I will say, at least thus far in the semester, we entered this semester with a plan from the beginning quite different from what took place last spring,” DeHayes said.

Academic Affairs Chair Thomas McGrath said that he had spoken to the Faculty Senate about a pass/fail option, and they told him that there is that option set up for some courses, but in a different manner than the universal satisfactory/unsatisfactory system that could be applied to any class last semester.

“Pass/fail is something that you can only pick for certain classes,” McGrath said. “It’s something you can only pick for certain kinds of classes and they cannot be classes for your major.”

Cultural Affairs Chair Bolu Taiwo also asked DeHayes about his solutions to diversity, equity and inclusion issues around campus. DeHayes said that, among other things, the University is planning to add diversity coordinators within each college.

“Because of COVID, we have very limited hiring of new faculty or staff because of the financial challenges, but we also plan to be adding diversity coordinators in each of the colleges,” DeHayes said.

According to DeHayes, Africana studies and gender and women’s studies will be elevated from programs to departments, pending the approval of the Board of Trustees, who will be meeting this weekend. The University will also soon begin offering a minor in social justice and civic responsibility.

DeHayes noted that any student can reach out to Faculty Senate about issues, and they are allowed to attend their meetings held Thursday nights.

Additionally, the Senate passed two bills to recognize Community Wellness Leaders and National Society for Collegiate Scholars as student organizations.

“Both of the groups had representatives come to our [Student Organization Committee] meetings, they met with us and they met all the criteria to be recognized clubs,” Student Organizations Committee Chair Katie Siegle, the bill’s handler, said.

Next week, Student Senate will verify the results of the elections held last Thursday and Friday and inaugurate new Senators.

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