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SA Academics Committee projects near completion

By Tina Ou     4/14/11 7:00pm

During the course of the school year, the Student Association Academics Committee has been working on projects targeting aspects of student academic life, including a transfer student courses database of previously approved courses, the creation of more minors, improving publicity and resources of pre-professional advising resources, revamping the Esther course evaluation system and creating a Syllabi Archive available during registration. The Academics Committee was also involved in communications with IT regarding the move from Rice E-mail to Gmail.

The projects were initiated by the committee members — mostly New Student Representatives and senators — who identified areas in which they felt changes could be made and implemented projects in those specific areas, according to SA External Vice-President and former Academics Committee Chair Sanjula Jain.

Some projects were the result of personal experience, such as in the case of Academics Committee Chair Dandan Liu. Liu, a transfer student and Brown College sophomore, came up with the idea of keeping a list of courses that have previously been approved for credit for students transferring to Rice to ease the transfer process. She had originally planned to put the list online, but because of legal issues it will instead take the form of a book of courses in the registrar's office.

"Coming as a transfer student, I noticed that the process of getting your credits approved to Rice was very difficult because you had to meet the department chairs to approve each course," Liu said.

According to Academics Committee Co-Chair Sid Mullick, Jones College freshman, the committee has already made some plans for future projects and will be working with administrators, faculty and other committees to implement their projects.

"We will work with administrators as well as the School of Humanities to seek ways to improve intro language classes at Rice University," Mullick said.

Liu said the Academics Committee plans on strengthening writing courses at Rice by replacing COMM 103, an English writing class required for credit but which students do not have to take if they pass the COMM 103 writing exam before matriculation, with more topic-focused freshman seminars. Liu said the committee is also considering a writing center in the library where students can go for help in writing assignments and a study abroad major, which she said was an idea of Dean of Humanities Nicolas Shumway.

Liu said the committee also plans to create more accessible ways for students to voice their opinions and ideas with regards to academics, for instance through study breaks, progress updates and an open-forum box on the Academics page of the SA website.

Jain, a Brown sophomore, said the administration was receptive of the ideas presented by the committee and that she encourages all students to address their concerns with the Academics Committee.

"I hope that more students will take advantage of this and come forth with their ideas because it really is easy to make changes around campus," Jain said.

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