Western Courier

Faculty respond to SGA bill Rock: “Well I think you’ve struck a nerve”

Nicholas Ebelhack, editor-in-chief

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Student Government Association (SGA) Director of Academic Affairs Madison Lynn and Student Member to the Board of Trustees Wil Gradle responded to faculty concerns pertaining to two bills up for discussion at Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting.

The bills, written by SGA College of Business and Technology Senator Amanda Wrenn, ask for professors to review their course policies to consider that students dislike attendance and participation grading policies. These bills, initially proposed on Feb. 6, have been tabled over the last month to allow for additional research to be conducted.

Lynn briefly explained the bill in her report to the Faculty Senate.

“The issue was that some students had expressed concerns about attendance policies and being graded on their attendance in course, being penalized on whether or not they attend,” Lynn said.

Gradle then expanded on the bill in discussion to the request of Faculty Senate members wishing to hear more about the concern.

“The concept is that attendance is the students right since they pay to take the class,” Gradle said “If they feel like the class is not worth going to or if they should have the option of whether or not to attend.”

Initially, faculty members responded that the concerns outlined in the bill were null since an SGA bill can’t force a change in policy, as Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Robert Hironimus-Wendt said

“I appreciate the students taking the initiative, but I would suggest in the spirit of collegiality that what you are experiencing right now is the faculty perspective that policy says faculty have the complete authority,” Hironimus-Wendt said. “I would hope that when the bill is brought forward that this is an expression of the students but that we aren’t obligated to rewrite policy.”

Professor of English Marjorie Allison stated her concern with the bill as well, saying that participation is vital to her curriculum.

“I don’t see this as a power issue, I see this as my classroom style is discussion, and if you don’t show up to the class you haven’t actually taken the class,” Allison said.

Professor of Art Susan Czechowski shared a similar sentiment in her comment.

“It takes me just as much time preparing for those demonstrations as it does to give them, and I have to re-prepare them every semester, it’s not a lecture,” Czechowski said. “I do tell my students that they need to come to class, and it is awful to think that a student could really miss as many classes as they want. You can’t go to YouTube and get what I demonstrate.”

Gradle, playing “devil’s advocate,” responded that while some classes fall into that category others are potentially not worth attendance.

“There are times where students believe that teachers abuse the use of videos in the classroom,” Gradle said. “They think that it’s not worth the student’s time to watch a video in the classroom that the professor is showing when instead they could of watched it out of class and had discussion in class.”

Discussion continued, as some professors agreed that an attendance policy that excessively affects a student’s grade would be detrimental. Others responded that being required to be in attendance prepares a student for their career.

The bills, both tabled again at last night’s SGA meeting, will continue to be up for discussion as a survey is planned to be emailed out to students asking for their opinions on the issue. Faculty Senate Chair Steven Rock concluded discussion with a short response to Gradle, which elicited a laugh from the legislative body.

“Well I think you’ve struck a nerve,” Rock said.

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Faculty respond to SGA bill Rock: “Well I think you’ve struck a nerve”