Former A-Senate Chair says opinions on academic calendar change have shifted
What was once largely supported throughout campus is now the topic of debate between the Student Government Association and Academic Senate.
Phil Squattrito, who served as A-Senate chair in 2010-11 when calendar changes were initially discussed, said the student leadership supported the idea. Recommendations were made by the Student Priorities subcommittee of the president’s transition team and comments were made at A-Senate by student senators showing this support.
Students’ perspectives changed once the changes became a reality and issues were raised about how to handle it, Squattrito said.
“Leadership Safari is one example, but there are other programs that will be affected and it is not just students who have raised concerns,” he said. “From what I understand, and I’m not directly involved in this, there are efforts going on behind the scenes on the administrative side to try to address whatever concerns people submitted to the committee. The answers to these questions may help to alleviate the concerns.”
Squattrito said he did not have a strong position either way when the ad hoc committee was first created to address the changes.
He felt the committee would be helpful since the calendar had not been looked at in a decade and people were showing support for the changes.
“Speaking personally again, I was hopeful that if the calendar was shortened, an attempt would be made to maintain the same amount of instructional time,” he said. “It is true, however, the committee was not specifically charged with doing that.”
Squattrito said although many other universities already have truncated academic calendars, he does not fully support the idea.
“Speaking entirely as an individual, I am not enthusiastic about losing a week of instruction since it will mean that some topics will probably have to be shortened or omitted from my courses,” he said. “I think this is a particular challenge for science classes where the syllabi are typically very full already and there is a set list of topics we are expected to cover.”
Though A-Senate has already recommended in favor of the new calendar, Squattrito said there are still options if students wish to reverse the decision.
“One option would be to attempt to get the Senate to reconsider its recommendation. There are procedures in Roberts’ Rules for this,” he said. “I suppose another option for SGA would be to demonstrate overwhelming student opposition sufficient to cause everyone to take a step back.”
Student Government Association President Justin Gawronski, who has led planned opposition legislation against the proposed calendar, said SGA’s decision reflects the voice of the entire student body and should have an impact on the overall decision.
“SGA is the official student voice of the student body,” the Macomb junior said. “So, if SGA comes out in opposition of it, that, as far as I’m concerned, is sufficient student opposition to this.”
- University News Editor Catey Traylor contributed.
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