LSA SG pushes for earlier semester schedule, building improvements

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 10:38pm

LSA Student Government convened for the first meeting of the winter semester Wednesday evening to discuss three upcoming resolutions regarding the academic calendar and building conditions at the University of Michigan.  

Public Policy junior Lauren Schandevel and LSA junior Meaghan Wheat attended the meeting to discuss their resolution that would create a new minor: Collaborative Learning Across Socioeconomic Statuses. Schandevel and Wheat said they hope to bring related courses together and encourage students to take courses across departments, including African and Afro-American Studies, American Culture, Economics, History, Psychology, Public Policy, Sociology and Women’s Studies.  

The pair said they have gathered support from various department chairs, and have received expressed interest from the Sociology and Women’s Studies Departments to house the new minor, if approved.

LSA SG President Nicholas Fadanelli, an LSA senior, reviewed A.R. 7-026, a resolution calling upon the University to compensate CSG members for their time and their work. This proposal was previously approved, then vetoed by CSG. 

On Jan. 9, CSG President Anushka Sarkar, LSA senior, reiterated her reasoning for vetoing the proposal, stating she had worries about how the resolution would affect students without the organization. 

“I support the spirit of the resolution and I believe in financial support in compensation for just labor as we and other student governments do, but I take issue with some of the specifics of how the resolution would actually impact students in CSG and the organization’s integrity,” she said.

Sarkar stated she would be open to discussing other forms of compensation that would not risk exposing personal information or affecting internal decisions.  However, at the LSA SG meeting, Fadanelli said he put out an LSA executive board statement against the proposal as many members in LSA SG have expressed concerns. 

LSA SG also discussed a resolution in support of a revision to the 2020-2021 academic calendar proposed by the Office of the Registrar, which would begin classes before Labor Day.  

Fadanelli advocated for the proposal, stating starting the school year one week earlier would prevent final exams continuing through Dec. 23, as they have in previous years.  

The University of Michigan is one of the five universities in the Big Ten that begins after Labor Day. The list includes Northwestern University, which uses the quarter system instead of the semester system.

According to a survey of about 800 students, Fadanelli stated about 70 percent were in favor of starting the academic year a week before Labor Day, with 20 percent opposed and 12 percent indifferent.  The main concerns with the proposal were how it would affect spring/summer academic programs and move-in for University housing.

“The one thing we have to do as a government is weigh the pros and cons of a solution,” he said.

If the resolution is passed, students and University staff would have two-years notice to accommodate for summer and move-in plans.

LSA SG also discussed a resolution that would recognize United States Election Day as an academic holiday and would discourage course exams on all local, state and federal election days.  Wyatt Puscas, LSA SG student advisory council for departmental affairs vice chair, argued this would improve student turnout at elections, and cited studies that showed involvement in elections at a young age encourages continued involvement throughout one’s lifetime. Main concerns of the proposal included the financial cost of missing an entire day of classes and whether students would actually use the day to exercise their civic duties.

Fadanelli reiterated the University is required to have a minimum number of days in class and if the University were to not hold class on Election Day, there would simply be another day of class added another time in the year, perhaps in the week before Labor Day. Other schools, he said, may not provide accurate parallels for the University to model policy off of.

“Sometimes we have to be the leaders and the best,” Fadanelli said.

LSA SG also discussed a resolution advocating for the improved conditions of staircases within the Mason, Angell, Tisch and Haven Hall complex, sponsored by LSA SG representatives Patrick Miller and Brian Wang. Miller and Wang expressed this complex is one of the most visited and decrepit locations on campus, and that LSA SG has received various complaints that the stairwell, especially in the math wing, is bordering hazardous.  

The facilities director has reportedly been responsive and expressed interest to renovate soon.