Senate powers through full agenda
April 15, 2009 5:39 PM
In an attempt to complete as much work as possible before the end of semester, this week's Academic Senate meeting included a flurry of revisions, resolutions, and talking heads.
The senate asked for more action and less talk about rising textbook prices, introduced a new Web page for students with complaints, and revised its policy for repeating courses.
More action, less talk
The senate debated a resolution denouncing rising textbook costs. The resolution stated, "textbook costs have risen at rates higher that both median household income and student fees."
The document would have the senate vow to encourage faculty to consider prices, exclude supplementary materials and submit their textbook requests on time so the bookstore can shop for the best bargains.
Many senators felt lip service wasn't enough and asked for legislation on the matter.
"I'm interested in action with more teeth," senator Chris McCarthy said, such as identifying publishers that put out new editions with little relevant changes and not buying from them.
Senate Chair Shawn Whalen added, "there is nothing we can do to save the bookstore and students more money than adopting books early and by the deadline."
The deadline, which gives the bookstore time to shop for bargains, has expired for the fall 2009 semester.
A place for upset students
The senate also voted to increase the number of units a student can use to repeat courses from 24 to 28, bringing SF State in-line with CSU policy. The revisions stipulate that those units apply only to courses taken in matriculated, or state supported, status.
This means that a student in regular enrollment may only use 28 units for repeat courses. Students wishing to repeat a course through self support, such as through the College of Extended Learning, may do so as many times as they choose, according to senator Ray Trautman who drafted the revisions.
Senators Bridget McCracken and Gene Chelberg introduced a new Web page on the SF State Web site designed to help students resolve complaints or concerns with the university.
"This is designed to encourage students to face their issues head-on before we have to get into the very formal complaint process," Chelberg said.
The new Web page, at www.sfsu.edu/~vpsa/complaints/ , helps students define their issues and points them in the right direction toward solving their problems, according to McCracken.
Writing requirements, again
The senate discussed revisions to students' upper division writing requirements and courses, with the hopes of having them fully implemented by 2010.
"I am in great support of moving this forward," said senator Connie Ulasewicz who can't wait to teach smaller writing classes, whether they be limited to 20 or 25 students.
"Nothing has changed since last year" said Senator Lu Rehling, speaking against the limit increase. "Twenty five is too high. We will not have the outcome we want for improving student writing."
"We're talking about having students get the kind of writing instruction they deserve," said of the long debated issue, which was eventually sent back to committee
Sticking with students until graduation
Also revised was the university's enrollment management policy. The policy now calls for student retention and graduation to be considered part of enrollment management. Before, the policy only covered students until they were enrolled.
Rehling, a dissenting voter, spoke against the revisions, saying that the rational for more administrators was lacking.
One less minor, master
The senate is also considering discontinuing the university's minor program in family and consumer sciences and a master's in social science with a concentration in interdisciplinary studies.
At the request of the departments, the Senate discussed the issue and sent it back to committee.
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