The Students’ Association (SA) formed the new Academics Committee in a motion on Monday, March 24, in an effort to promote greater student participation in academic planning and provide a more consolidated focus on academically relevant goals.
Junior and current SA senator Mehr Kashyap will serve as the chair of the Academics Committee.
SA President Shipla Topudurti, who worked to draft the constitution bylaws for the committee, discussed some of the committee’s goals.
Topudurti said many committees that are involved with academics already exist, but do not have a strong enough student voice present. Examples include the Faculty Senate, the College Curriculum Committee, and the College Academic Honesty Advisory Council.
The committee also aims to improve the distribution of resources and information like course planning and registration, pre-major advising, and career center updates to make them more comprehensible for the average student.
Topudurti discussed the Academics Committee’s future role in releasing coursework and class syllabi before registration in an effort to make course selection less hectic. According to Topudurti, this course of action would also dissuade upperclassmen from filling capped courses the first few days simply to find out the curriculum rather than to test their interest in the class.
Other goals of the Academics Committee are the expansion of the Lunch with your Professor program, research funding, and experiential learning.
Regarding experiential learning through involvement with the community and independent study, Topudurti said, “I think that there needs to be more awareness brought to the fact that that can exist.” She said programs that encourage community involvement are what can break the “bubble” of a college community.
According to Topudurti, the scope of the projects that will fall under the new Academic Committee’s jurisdiction is more long term than other committees’ goals.
“It’s more forward-thinking,” she said.
Topudurti noted the effects the formation of this committee will have on the average student.
“The tangible changes are going to take some time to see, but I think they will be really valuable for the community as a whole,” Topudurti said. “I hope they just happen and integrate into the community without having to always really heavily publicize everything all the time.”
Other specific plans Topudurti has for the committee involve more modern and technologically oriented ways of relaying information about resources to the student population.
“The way people like to receive information changes every five years or so,” Topudurti said. She mentioned weekly mass emails and social media as effective ways of making students aware.
Topudurti decided an Academics Committee was necessary when she was elected last year. She said part of the job of the President is to appoint committee chairs, and she noticed in her attempt that the Projects and Services Committee covered a large array of issues, including academics.
According to Topudurti, this resulted in insufficient concentration on academic projects.
“Academics is something I personally really care about,” Topudurti said. “It just has not been really consistent.”
Topudurti formed an ad hoc committee with other SA senators to work on initiatives and attend meetings regarding academics. Last week, she pursued a formal bylaws change because the informal efforts were successful.
In reference to the future of the Academics Committee, Topudurti remarked, “I think it will be really powerful for the next SA President to be able to go through a full selection process and put out this position just as they do with every other committee chair position.”
McAdams is a member of the class of 2017.