The Faculty Senate voted 14 to 9 in favor of the Committee for Undergraduate Curriculum proposal to lower the limit on the number of credit hours undergraduate students can enroll in from 20 hours to 18 hours, starting with the incoming class of 2020. More than 100 students were present at the Faculty Senate meeting to protest against the proposal in a sit-in organized by the Student Association.
SA President Griffin Thomas said he was frustrated by the result of the vote, especially because although the Faculty Senate had been discussing the proposal since September, the Student Senate did not learn about it until February.
“The idea that this was some sort of negotiation that was done in good faith is simply false,” Thomas said. “The proposal was brought to Student Senate right before spring break and during our change of leadership, asking for comment, as opposed to coming to us with a problem and asking us to be partners in drafting a solution. I am frustrated.”
Thomas said the response from the SA for the past month has been largely reactive, attempting to put stop-gaps in the most detrimental parts of the proposal. He said he hoped the vote did not sour relations between students and administrators, especially in the Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson’s office and the OAA.
Speaker of the Faculty Senate James Weston said the faculty listened to student concerns at SA, through emails and at the meeting.
"I thought the student protesters were polite, terrific,” Weston said. “It's the type of situation where you can listen to what the other side says and respectfully disagree."
Weston said the majority of the faculty did not think the concerns outweighed the benefits of the proposal.
The proposal, which Thomas said was updated after last-minute discussions with President David Leebron and the Speaker of the Faculty Senate James Weston, contains several other changes as well. The petition limit lowers from 24 hours to 21 hours and moves petition reviews from the dean’s office to major departments. A shopping period for courses would allow students to register for up to 20 hours during the first week of classes.
Among the last-minute edits were that the SA will be working with the Office of Academic Advising to draft the new overload petition guidelines, major advisors for declared students may approve overload petitions and President Leebron must conduct a review of the deficiencies in academic advising. The lower limit does not affected students studying music or architecture.
Thomas said he encouraged students who still wanted to enact some sort of action on the proposal to work with the SA on drafting the petition guidelines with the OAA.
“I think [this proposal] underlines just how important student governance is. This type of student governance requires really active participation from students. I know the SA is going to work harder to make sure students are more aware of these proposals as they develop.”
Thomas also said students can reach out to Leebron, Hutchinson, Weston and Chair of the CUC Susan McIntosh to express their frustrations about the proposal and its development.
“They need to understand that cutting students [from] these discussions has a cost,” Thomas said.