Library Hours, GenEd, and StudGov, Oh My!

Student Government convened in Neff on Monday November 5th at 9 p.m for their first meeting with Ambrose Lutwyche as President after former President Harpreet Chamdal stepped down. Among the topics discussed were extending hours at Muddy Run and the library, changing class schedules, and considering a resolution that would call on faculty to support reducing the maximum credit requirement for a POE. Dean Damschroder was in attendance.

After the meeting was called to order at 9:03 p.m, without enough student government members present to form a voting quorum, the question of working to extend Muddy’s hours until 1 AM was raised. Objections included the late cleaning hours this would require of Parkhurst employees and the low late-night turnout at Muddy in previous years. Haley Walker suggested that extending library hours, considering the ultimate plan of having self-service food at the library, would be of more help to students. Rian Fantozzi pointed out that with the cuts to student worker hours implemented this semester, there might be “resistance to longer library hours” since two student workers must always be present at the library information desk. However, since extended library hours would also effectively mean extended food service for students, Vidal Glassman pointed out that keeping the library open longer “would kill two birds with one stone.” Dean Damschroder recommended the “cost-neutral” option of asking Mocha Run to push their hours later, particularly if those hours were arranged so they weren’t in conflict with Baker.

Fantozzi then presented on the General Education Committee’s plan to reduce the maximum size of a POE from 63 to 56-58 credits, in order to make the POE process simpler for students in undergraduate programs and less daunting for transfer students. The revised POE plan would no longer count introductory classes toward a POE. The new credit limit would not reduce the number of classes students can take but would reduce the number of classes one needs to list on their POE. All classes would still need to be rationalized in one’s POE and approved through the registrar and subject departments.

One of the goals of this change, said Fantozzi, was to implement  “a campus wide culture shift” away from having a high number of mandatory prerequisites by requiring departments to be “more choosy” about required prereqs.  While the registrar is in support of this new policy, there is no current implementation schedule. Fantozzi explained that even if this policy “gets passed ASAP, we wouldn’t expect this before August 2020.” Over concerns that this new policy would dampen Juniata’s academic rigor, a trait for which many students choose this school, Fantozzi assured the room that the new curriculum changes would only strengthen Juniata’s general education. Lutwyche claimed that many of the current changes to gen-ed were happening because the college’s accreditation has been “threatened – not threatened, but encouraged to be revised,” as he was told in a focus group for the new gen-ed policies.

Fantozzi then asked student government to pass a resolution that specifically called on faculty to make these changes. However, since there was not a full voting quorum present at the meeting,  Lutwyche clarified that any vote made would only serve as a barometer of the present  members’ support  for this resolution. The vote was 13 in favor with Haley Walker and Kirwin Seger not in favor.

Toward the end of the meeting, Fantozzi also presented on the GenEd Committee’s plan to change student schedules to a block schedule in order to create more standardized class times. Classes would start at 8 and end at 5, with some exceptions, and Wednesdays would be devoted to high-impact learning courses like labs. One goal of this is to keep departments from scheduling over first-year courses. There would also be a Common Hour on Wednesdays that reserves time in student schedules for guest speakers.