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Council asks to postpone department dissolution

Molly Madden | Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The possible dissolution of Department of Economics and Policy Studies was the main topic of discussion at the Council of Representatives (COR) meeting last night.

Student government chief of staff Ryan Brellenthin said Student Senate would ask the Academic Council to postpone voting on the resolution to dissolve the department at the end of the spring semester.

The vote on dissolution of the department is scheduled to take place tomorrow.

“There has been virtually no undergraduate student input taken into account on this decision and none has been sought by those making the decision,” he said.

Brellenthin said the proposal to dissolve the department is based on rankings, which many undergraduate students don’t consider to be vital to their education.

Student body president Grant Schmidt said this decision would be reflective of many different processes within the University.

“This proposal is controversial because it sets the precedent for how input will be sought for academic decisions from the student body,” he said.

Many COR members thought student government might be overstepping its boundaries by demanding that student input be taken into account in University academic decisions.

Student body vice president Cynthia Weber said student government is not requesting to be involved in every decision that the University makes, but students who will be affected by such decisions should have a chance to voice their opinions.

“We come to a university because the professors and deans have an expertise but we’re also scholars,” she said. “We want to be a part of decisions that affect our scholarship.”

Brellenthin articulated that what student government wants is more knowledge of the situation.

“Half of what we’re asking for is to be educated before a decision like this is made,” he said.

Schmidt said Student Senate will request tonight that the resolution to dissolve the Department of Economics and Policy Studies be postponed until undergraduate economics majors have a chance to give their input to the College of Arts and Letters.
In other COR news:

Schmidt brought to the attention of COR members a request made by Fr. Mark Poorman, vice president of Student Affairs, to increase the allotment to the Rector Fund.

The Rector Fund is provides monetary assistance for students who can’t afford fees for things like football tickets, books and service trips. The money for the Rector Fund comes out of The Shirt Charity Fund, which has a current value of $1.3 million.

Schmidt said the allotment for the Rector Fund for the 2009 fiscal year was $60,000 but around $92,000 was given to students from the Office of Financial Aid. In response to the increased need, Poorman asked that the annual funds be increased to $100,000.

“Use of this fund has increased dramatically over the past few years and people are requesting assistance for legitimate reasons,” Schmidt said. “To me, increasing the funds seems like a no-brainer because it goes to a very important cause.”

COR also discussed the recent passing of a resolution in Student Senate that proposes and recommends the passing of a student medical amnesty policy.

The Senate and the Office of Residence Life and Housing will work together to develop and implement a policy for the 2010-11 academic school year.

The policy would allow students to report medical emergencies without having to worry about receiving a disciplinary record for breaking school rules.

Schmidt said because of recent discussion about revisions to du Lac, it is very likely that a medical amnesty policy could be in place by the Fall 2010 semester.

He said one of the main arguments against the passage is that many University officials believe that such a policy is already “unofficially” in place on campus.

“Even if it is in place, students have to know about it,” Schmidt said. “It needs to be outlined in du Lac so that students can make that phone call without being deterred.”