SGA proposes list of college expectations

By Zack Sampson, News Staff

Aiming to help Northeastern’s colleges better serve students, the Student Government Association (SGA) unanimously passed an initiative Monday that will provide a College Expectations List to the administration.

The list includes a number of suggestions, such as requests for faculty in every college to hold at least one town hall meeting each semester and to ensure that teachers are using the most affordable course materials possible. SGA cannot enforce this measure, but members hope Northeastern officials will take it seriously.

“Now can we 100 percent guarantee, no questions asked, that these colleges are actually using the most affordable textbook options? We cannot,” Dani Wojdyla, SGA’s vice president of academic affairs, said. “However, we can get our student opinion in there and work cooperatively with each college to make sure that at least they’re aware of what it is that we want.”

Wojdyla presented the college expectations proposal with her assistant vice president, Joshua Coombes. Both emphasized during and after the meeting that this is not a senate resolution, which would be an attempt to require the administration to adopt the list.

“A senate resolution is binding, so if we were to pass it as a senate resolution, it would be definitely us as students demanding this of the administration and making it more of an attack than a partnership,” Wojdyla said.

Bruce Ronkin, the university’s vice provost for undergraduate education, said the last line of the proposal, which notes how SGA “will work with the administration and faculty in order to meet the expectations of the students,” stood out to him immediately.

“The administration supports the spirit of the resolution and we’re optimistic that these things will come into being in the colleges, and we really appreciate the collaborative approach that the SGA is taking,” Ronkin said.

Of all the expectations, which also include requests that every college establish advisory councils and utilize social media like Twitter and Facebook to connect with students, Ronkin said he is particularly fond of the move for more town hall meetings.

“There’s nothing more valuable then having the students face-to-face with the leaders of the colleges,” he said.

Wojdyla said she was assured that town hall meetings could benefit students after the success of a College of Business Administration town hall in October.

“Just actually attending the CBA town hall, the acting dean Harry Lane was just spitting out all these great facts about our college, about the College of Business, that an average student in any other college might not be aware of,” she said. “Just talking about what they’re spending their time researching, and I just think, as a student, we have the right to know this information.”

Immediately after passing the resolution, SGA set up an ad-hoc committee to handle the College Expectations List. Set to dissolve at the end of the upcoming spring semester, the group will act as a liaison to the faculty for implementation of the list.

Wojdyla and Coombes said the committee will consist of two SGA members and two students-at-large and should start being staffed within the next few weeks.

Ronkin said he anticipates upcoming “meetings between SGA officers and leaders of colleges,” so the College Expectations List can get off the ground.

Wojdyla said she hopes the list will “be almost 80 to 90 percent consistent between all the colleges,” by fall 2012.

Coombes echoed this sentiment, and said he hopes the plan will spread through the university in the near future.

“I would like to see each one of these expectations either completed or being worked on continuously,” he said. “I would like to see more expectations on this list as we accomplish more things — I’m sure we’ll have more expectations. Hopefully this list will be evolving to the point where it’s a nice, easy way for faculty and administration to work with us to accomplish the needs of the students.”

As the list develops and more is added, Wojdyla said she hopes at least some students will show interest and support for the move to make colleges aware of their expectations.

“Whether or not students will attend or actually be receptive to what it is that we’re asking of these colleges, I’m not really sure,” she said. “But if we can get an extra one to two to 10 people to appreciate what it is that the goal of this is hoping to accomplish then I think we’ve done our job.”

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