This past week, College faculty members discussed an Academic Policy Committee (APC) proposal that would have lowered the minimum credits necessary for graduation from 34 to 32, and would prevent students from registering more than 4.5 credits prior to the completion of the registration period, among other provisions. Ultimately, the proposal was referred back to the APC for further discussion.
Two days prior to the meeting, a series of public Facebook posts were the first notice that most students had regard- ing the potential change. The posts were made by two students unaffiliated with the APC, spread quickly, and ultimately resulted in a small but prominent protest outside the faculty meeting in Trumbower Hall on Friday.
Since Friday’s faculty meeting, it has become apparent that this policy will likely change very little about the academic lives of students. Nevertheless, it has been subject to an incredible amount of misinformation. There’s plenty of shared responsibility across the various parties involved in the suggested change with regards to communication failure.
We are willing to accept some of the responsibility here, as we pledged to cover and report on Student Government Association (SGA) meetings but failed to do so on Dec. 8. Perhaps we should have determined whether a meeting was occurring, even though an event was not created on Facebook. And while it is true that an APC report was included in the Dec. 8 meeting minutes, reporting conducted by The Weekly determined that those minutes were unavailable before Mar. 20. As a result, The Weekly was informed of concrete details regarding the policy change at the same time as the larger student body.
The two students who sit on the APC have full rights to voice opinions and vote on issues and report back to the
SGA General Assembly about new initiatives from the committee. Although the two seated students are not expected to represent every student voice on our campus while serving, we believe they should make an effort — through the SGA or otherwise — to include an accurate cross-section of student perspectives prior to sharing an opinion with the APC. Doing so would help these two students, and by extension the APC, in developing a well-informed position.
Moreover, in regards to the APC, simply having two students seated on the committee — students that are under no expectation to communicate with the larger student body — does not absolve it from respecting a wide array of student perspectives. Regardless of its intent, the committee’s structure and policy of non-communication invites cynical assumptions and accusations of tokenism.
None of this, however, changes the fact that SGA could also have been more proactive in informing students about the policy. In all cases, SGA should strive to involve as many students in the process as possible, even if the representatives to the APC are not officially acting on behalf of SGA. If SGA truly wants to be the primary advocate for the larger student body, the responsibility falls on the General Assembly to ensure that their opinions and recommendations not only accurately represent their constituents, but are communicated appropriately to College decision makers. Anything less than that is certainly inadequate.
Lastly, the students who shared and commented on the policy on Facebook should consider the swift proliferation of misinformation and rumors that complicate the communication process.
We empathize with the students who felt left in the dark, but we must ensure above all that the information shared is accurate.