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SAO seeks senate input on new first year course

| Thursday, January 29, 2015

Wednesday evening, representatives from the design team for the new first year course that will replace the physical education requirement delivered a presentation to Student Senate.

Executive assistant to the Office of the President Mirella Riley said the primary goal of the new first year course is to give students a way to transition to college life.

“It will be an opportunity to have the integration of the residential life, the academic life and it will provide a holistic approach to the education of first year students as they come in,” Riley said. “It will provide a number of methods to deliver content.

“But really the idea is that there will be discussions of those sections that will be facilitated by an instructor, and that it will also build a sense of community for the students.”

Riley said while the course is a certain thing, planning is still in the early stages and the design team is therefore looking for student input to help shape the course.

In response to questions from some of the senators in attendance, Maureen Dawson, assistant dean in First Year of Studies, said the course would expand on the resources students receive during orientation weekend.

“These courses are really common throughout the country,” Dawson said. “Ours will be different in that it’s not to help students meet academic standards; it’s really to give students the opportunity to discover themselves, see how they fit in at the University and take a very holistic approach to developing mind, body and spirit.”

Dawson said students in the course will have one professor per semester, and the class’s format will include online modules.

Riley said the design team is still in the early stages of deciding the name of the course, its grading system and the campus organizations that will be involved in its design. Riley asked Senators for their input over the next several weeks.

Student Activities Office (SAO) program director Paul Manrique said while there are not many undergraduate students on the design team, because the team is small, student representatives will still have a say in the course’s formation.

Sophomore Jake Wittenberg was elected to be the Senate’s representative to the design team, which also includes faculty and administrators.

The Senate also unanimously passed a resolution amending the Student Government Constitution, moving the start date for class councils from April 1 to May 1. In his introduction of the resolution, junior class president Zach Waterson said changing the date would allow class council members more time to plan events.

“In the second semester, April is the best month to plan events for your respective classes,” Waterson said. “… it’s right before finals, and also you have the whole year to figure out what kinds of events work for your class.

“But unfortunately right now, the term ends on April 1 and a whole new council begins on April 1, so we don’t really have the opportunity to take advantage of that. This amendment pushes the transition back a month to May 1 to give the class council the academic year to finish planning those events.”

While class council positions now start May 1, other student government positions will still begin April 1.

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About Emily McConville

Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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