University Council discusses academic calendar start date changes

Monday, November 27, 2017 - 10:15pm

The final University Council meeting of the semester was held Monday evening in the Michigan Union. Discussion among representatives from student governments across campus centered around projects for next semester, including increasing student voter turnout and a survey to understand students’ opinions toward beginning the fall academic calendar before Labor Day.

The meeting opened with guest speaker LSA senior Micah Griggs, former vice president of Central Student Government during 2016-17, who presented information about the Leadership Engagement Scholarship established by CSG last year to help eliminate financial barriers for students in extracurricular leadership roles.

The discussion then shifted toward the council’s role in increasing student voter turnout. CSG Vice President Nadine Jawad, a Public Policy senior, cited turnout as only 14 percent in the last midterm election on campus in 2014. The University Council discussed how it can contribute to the success of the “Turn Up Turnout” initiative, an on-campus organization working on increasing the University of Michigan’s ranking in the Big Ten Voting Challenge. Jawad also explained how the council should plan to distribute information about the free TurboVote service students can register for to receive reminders about election dates, poll locations and absentee ballot requests.

“What a lot of people maybe don’t understand is that our vote means arguably more in a midterm election because that is direct representation for our state,” Jawad said. “We should just want our voices heard from all political ideologies, backgrounds, and identities, but it just seems very lost because students are busy.

The council also discussed a project to a compile a supplemental resource list on syllabi, including information such as Title IX and caregiver resources. Jawad introduced the initiative to include Counseling and Psychological Services resource information on all syllabi took a lot of effort, and she hopes this resource list will be a more realistic solution to help students understand other resources.

An update on the pending Richard Spencer visit request was briefly discussed. Representatives discussed a resolution on the CSG docket scheduled for Tuesday night concerning the body’s position on the visit.

The meeting concluded with an update from LSA senior Nicholas Fadanelli, president of LSA Student Government, who explained the registrar recently sent out two separate academic calendar proposals for the 2020-21 school year.

Fadanelli explained the first option proposes the regular start date after Labor Day with fall semester exams ending on Dec. 24, 2020. The second proposal has a start date one week before Labor Day to begin Winter Break earlier.

Fadanelli then discussed the results of a survey included in the recent LSA election ballot that concerns the academic calendar.

“A little over 900 individuals voted and 70 percent said, ‘Yes, I support starting before Labor Day,’ approximately 20 percent ‘No, I do not,’ and 12 percent said they were indifferent,” Fadanelli said.

The remainder of the meeting included the council’s plans for sending out a survey to collect opinions of students from all other University schools to gain an informed opinion before the council drafts a resolution with their position on the academic calendar start date.