The Arizona Desert Lamp

ASUA Meeting Wrap-Up: The Bob Dylan Edition

Posted in Uncategorized by Evan Lisull on 2 October 2008

I. Appropriations Board War #2

Yet another call for reconsideration, this time from the Filipino Students Association. Their spokesman, Scott Francisco, argued that the Appropriations Board did not allocate enough funds for the “Friendship Games”; unfortunately, the rest of his plea was a Palin-esque mishmash of phrases such as “freshman retention,” “stresses leadership — there are captains,” and “stresses teamwork.”

Naturally, the bleeding hearts won the day, and the reassessment was agreed to by a vote of 7-2, with Sens. Fritze and Patrick voting against.

It was Sen. Fritze, however, that made the event noteworthy. Addressing the issue, she reminded the Senate that with Club Recognition now under ASUA’s aegis, more clubs than ever are requesting funds; “but there are still only $100,000 for funding.” Every club will want more, she said, “and we can give them what we can give. But there comes a certain point when you have to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ ” Still my beating heart — is this. . . fiscal responsibility coming out of ASUA? It’s not clear how Senators are chosen to chair the Approp. Board, but whoever selected Sen. Fritze made an excellent choice.

II. Talkin’ Class Enrollment Blues

Some genuinely interesting proposals from the Undergraduate Council, who were represented by the chair Professor George Gehrels. The Council is addressing the issue of class enrollment, an issue most of us have had a first-hand encounter with. The proposals are as follows:

Grade Replacement Opportunities
-Allow GRO only for D and E grades (not C)
-Restrict GRO opportunities to first two years at UA.
-Create a “what-if” GRO calculator on WebReg.

Course Repeats
-Allow only two attempts of each course (some students have actually repeated a course 11 times, which sounds like a modern form of purgatory)

Course Shopping
-Move W date earlier in the semester
-Keep WebReg open longer
-Charge fee for each drop

Change in Class Standing
-Streamline the university, so that 30 units = completed freshman, 60 units for sophomore, etc.

I was somewhat disappointed, if not entirely surprised, that a good portion of Senate questioning seemed to be ass-covering — they worried about bad grades showing up on their transcript when applying to professional schools (which is a bit absurd, since for GROs the original grades show up anyways), about needing more time “to figure out what a class is really like (aka “Let me get a grade on a test so I can see whether or not I should drop it”).

In their defense, they did bring up the implementation of a university-wide waiting list system on WebReg — which, as President Bruce pointed out, is ready-made in the structure of WebReg, and will soon be implemented — and noted that it should include the number of students waiting ahead of them (to give a sense of whether or not they will be able to get in).

This seems a good a time as any to rehash Connor’s old column calling for online auctioning of class seats. While good in theory, I worry that this is far too complicated for anyone outside of upper-level economics course to handle properly; students will most likely get caught up bidding wars, and squander all of their credit for the last seat in a class that they don’t really need. I have to say, I like the idea proposed in the comments of the article, calling for gladiatorial battles for seats. This could at least be implemented for students attempting to add the class — “There are 12 of you fighting for 3 seats. Last three standing win!”
Morituri te salutant!

As far as course shopping goes, I would like to see a sort of course shopping period, as is done at Harvard and Yale (and, if I remember correctly, Michigan as well). For a week period, students are free to wander in and out of classes, to get a sampling of classes and anything that they may want to sign up for. If this were encouraged, and combined with an expansion of the classes that can be taken for Gen Ed credit, I would suspect that we’d see more SBS students taking bizarre Math Theory courses, and vice versa.

Lastly, on the class standing situation: I’m a bit worried with Professor Gehrels assertion that this will encourage students to take 15 units a semester, which will lead to more overall units and thus more state funding — $14.4 million, by the UGC’s calculations. This seems too sly for its own good; instead, with the budget where it is, I’d worry that the state would decide that the 22-1 funding format (22 students (in terms of credit hours) leads to the funding requisite for one professor) is too handsome, and would simply break that off. This is not the best time to be focused on scheming more money out of the state.

Overall, though, it’s really good to see some genuinely new and useful ideas making the rounds. Hopefully, these proposals can get implemented in the near future.

III. Coming Out (Of My Wallet)

So it’s National Coming Out Week, which apparently means massively subsidizing the Wildcat’s ad revenue printing a two-page color advertisement with the names of campus members who have “come out.” While I’d never considered the motives until Seema Patel (Ad. VP)  brought them up, Patel justified the funding by saying that sponsoring the ad, “. . .encourages students to be comfortable with their choices.”

Hmm. I see; apparently, gay and lesbian (excuse me — LGBTQQA (I think. . .)) students, having faced a litany of societal pressures from family members, peers, religious groups, and so forth, are not truly comfortable with their choice until ASUA validates it? They do not feel like a part of everyday society until their name is published in a college newspaper ad? You’ll have to excuse my skepticism.

The use of Senate funding for this project has been justified by the fact that it’s “for the behalf of students.” This displays an inherent flawed sense of “representing the students” — this does not help all students, but only those who are having their names printed. Students may flourish in a more diverse society, but a newspaper ad does not a nuanced culture make. Would the ASUA approve of a two-page listing the names of faculty members and students who recently became members  of a religious community? Somehow, I’m skeptical that their sense of diversity goes that far.

ASUA voted unanimously to approve $500 for the ad, which actually doesn’t cover the entire cost — funds are being raised from other groups, such as the Womens’ Resource Center and the LGBTQQA community. This raises an unavoidable question: why not rely solely on these groups, since this is an actual part of their mission?

IV. Ballad of UA Votes, Part Two

An interesting non-story regarding UA Votes’ Block Party this weekend. I expected the Senate Reports to be filled with self-congratulatory praise, which it was in part. What was absent, however, were any numbers or stats. There was no crowing about newly registered voters, as there usually was. The response, given ASUA’s usual giddy demeanor, was somewhat subdued.


Also, as far as transparency goes, it appears that the minutes are recorded on Garage Band. Any reason why these couldn’t be broadcast via ITunes, in podcast form?


2 Responses

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  1. […] don’t want to overstate my case here, but on October 2 I made the following statement after the ASUA meeting: Also, as far as transparency goes, it […]

  2. […] could have been misheard, but if true is worrysome, considering that the Undergraduate Council has been pushing to increase the base freshman course-load from 12 to 15 […]

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