Reversing academic calendar decision more complicated than expected, FA says
Executive Director of Faculty Personnel Services Matt Serra said a vote from the Student Government Association alone will not be enough to stop the academic calendar change.
Serra, in a sit-down interview with Central Michigan Life Thursday, said students are a major voice at Central Michigan University, but he doesn’t know how much impact the SGA resolution will have. He said if the SGA’s proposed resolution passes at its Monday meeting, SGA would still have to persuade Academic Senate to support it.
“This doesn’t end with Monday’s vote,” he said.
Serra said if SGA passes the resolution, this does not necessarily stop the process, because something, legislation or some type of vote, would still need to come from A-Senate.
“This was driven by Academic Senate, and whatever students do needs to get through Academic Senate,” he said.
SGA introduced new legislation Oct. 8 that would not support the academic calendar change scheduled for fall 2014. The legislation lists 38 reasons why the academic calendar change would be detrimental to the CMU student body, including a lack of student support.
SGA President Justin Gawronski said when the academic calendar committee originally brought their report to A-Senate last month, A-Senate merely voted to accept the report.
“The Academic Senate voted to accept their report, not necessarily to accept the calendar,” he said.
Gawronski said if the resolution passes Monday, it is possible SGA will go in front of A-Senate, but he is not sure if SGA will take that route or a different one.
Serra said the academic calendar committee is done with their work and is not meeting anymore. The academic calendar is now at the bargaining team stage. He said the academic calendar is part of the Faculty Association contract, and any change to the calendar is included with the contract.
FA President Laura Frey said the academic calendar is not an FA initiative or an administrative initiative — it is a senate issue that has contractual components with FA. She said FA is working in conjunction with the administration according to a letter of agreement. An ad hoc committee of FA, administration and student representatives was created in spring 2011 to review the academic calendar.
Frey said she and Serra have become the public face of the academic calendar because they represent the letter of agreement between the FA and administration, but they did not start the academic calendar process.
“Once the senate voted yes (on the calendar), frankly there was an obligation for representation from the Faculty Association and administration to come together,” she said. “We are the front, but we didn’t start the process.”
There has been student involvement with the academic calendar throughout the process of a year and a half, Frey said. She said students have expressed an interest in an academic calendar that begins after Labor Day so they can work more over the summer.
Registrar Karen Hutslar has not heard of any concern that a 15-week academic calendar would have an effect on enrollment at CMU.
“That question has never come up,” she said. “We have never heard that concern.”
Serra said he is aware that some students, faculty, staff and administrators are in favor of the academic calendar change, and it is possible the voices from those who want change are being muffled in the conversation. However, he said it is up to those students to share their thoughts with SGA.
Gawronski said he has heard from some students who are receptive to the calendar change, but the responses he has received have been generally negative.
“I hope those wishes aren’t getting drowned out at all,” he said. “I’m not pushing for any specific opinion.”
Serra said he and Frey will just have to “wait and see” what happens. He said if the calendar does get the go-ahead, it can be approved by the end of the fall semester. The academic calendar change is slated to start in the fall of 2014, Serra said, and the dates for at least the first three years have been worked out.
If A-Senate takes action to withdraw, the bargaining team would be informed because there would no longer be a recommended calendar, Serra said.
Gawronski said the SGA resolution does not mean there will never be a change to the academic calendar. He said another proposal could be brought to A-Senate again in a few years — one that is more in-tune with student interests.
“It wouldn’t completely kill it forever, just eliminate the current proposal,” he said.
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