Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

SGA Discusses Semester Switch with Provost Lawrence

The Student Government Association talked with Provost Pareena Lawrence during their meeting on Nov. 19. Discussion topics included a possible switch to a semester schedule, among other topics.
Lawrence made it clear that no decision had been made yet in switching Augustana to a semester schedule. Lawrence explained that the executive board was simply looking at the impact a switch would have and at least three years away from a switch. A decision won’t be made for at least another year, with at least two years prior to implementation.
Lawrence said one of the main issues with the trimester schedule was that it didn’t align with other schools. This makes it difficult to co-op with other schools on programs such as study abroad, which would allow for both study abroad and tuition costs to decrease. Study abroad, Lawrence said, was just one of many specialized programs that could be combined with other schools.
“If that switch could save millions of dollars, and that’s a big if, of course we are going to consider it,” said Lawrence.
A switch would also assist transfer students. With the current schedule, credits don’t transfer due to the three credit versus four credit system. A switch to a semester system would allow labs to be worth one credit, making it easier to transfer to other institutions.
Along with classes being worth four credits, students would take 35 classes instead of the current 41. A switch would also help with large projects such as senior inquiry, said Lawrence, as there would be 16 weeks of research instead of 10.
This switch led to a mixed response from faculty. Some were in favor, as it would give them more time to ease students into their classes. Others were opposed, saying that it was too much time allotted to a single class. However, according to Lawrence, most agreed that it would help with attendance. On the current trimester schedule, a week of missed class, due to illness for example, equates to 10 percent of class time. If switched to a 16 week schedule, it would only be around 7 percent.
Many of Lawrence’s remarks came following questions from SGA senators. However, concluding the discussion, she emphasized that a switch was simply being investigated.
Lawrence also discussed the campus suggestion box with SGA. She said that requests were brought to her office weekly and she split them to send to groups that were most associated with the complaints. She encouraged students to continue using them. However, she said that if someone wanted feedback on their complaint that they couldn’t leave it anonymous.
“’There is a loud noise above my room, can you tell whoever it is to stop,” said Lawrence, quoting a complaint she got. “But it was anonymous! There was nothing I could do if I didn’t know where it was!”
Other talking points from Lawrence were that LSFY will be changing its name to First Year Inquiry and that Augustana would get its letter of accreditation in December.
In terms of weekly SGA business, there were no contingencies for this meeting, since it is still the first week of the term.
Committee meeting highlights include the Advising committee beginning work this term on how to branch out the use of the new Starfish program and the Student Activities and PR committees working together to start a Secret Santa gift exchange.

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SGA Discusses Semester Switch with Provost Lawrence