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ASG discusses course retake policy changes

By Matt Levy
On November 17, 2011

Among proposed changes coming from Miami University's administration, including major changes to the academic calendar and the Miami Plan, Associated Student Government (ASG) discussed a large anticipated revision to Miami's course repeat policy during their weekly meeting Tuesday night.

In his weekly report, Student Body President Nick Huber brought to student senate's attention that the university has begun reexamining its course repeat policy and University Senate wanted ASG's input on the matter.

According to Huber, many of Miami's current course repeat policies would be altered, including allowing a maximum of only 12 hours of credit to be retaken. Students would only be allowed to retake classes during their first 64 hours of class credit at the university, with the reasoning behind it being academic forgiveness should be given during a student's first two years at the university.

"Often what happens is a student takes a course in their first few semesters that will be really detrimental to their GPA, and it can sometimes discourage students," Huber said.

Other changes include requiring students to earn a C- or lower in a class in order to retake it and applying normal fees and tuition regardless of how many times a student repeats a course.

Huber also said with the new system, a retaken class grade would be the only grade to appear on a transcript, unlike the current system, in which an average of the original and retaken course grades is what appears on a student's transcript.

According to Huber, these would be put in place to help boost Miami's retention rate among its first and second-year students, a demographic traditionally at risk for becoming discouraged when they receive bad grades early in their college careers.

Response to the policy was vocal, with many ASG members were confused or apprehensive about the proposed new system. Others saw many benefits in it. Huber wrote down senators' concerns over the issues they brought up to send back to University Senate.

"I know a lot of schools that have policies like this in place, and they're ranked a lot lower than Miami," ASG Treasurer Michael Trivelli said.

Many senators wanted to know what sort of impact the 64 hour cutoff would have on transfer students who upperclassmen who wanted to retake a course.

 "I think maybe we need to look at who we're retaining," Senator Tom Hohman said. "We should focus on who we want to retain instead of retention just for the sake of retention."

Huber said the administration likely wants to retain all its students, as they have all gone through the university's admission process, and to lose a number of students would be against Miami's best interests.

 "Speaking from someone who screwed up my freshman year in a couple of classes, if I had had this, I would have felt a lot better and more welcome at Miami," Senator Peter Dougherty said. "All Miami students have gotten in because Miami wanted them to be here, and we need to remember that before we start saying ‘I don't want to keep that person because of their 2.5 GPA.'"

Also during the meeting was a request from Treasurer Trivelli that ASG consider performing an audit on Miami's Motorsports club. According to Trivelli, the club used ASG funds to store a vehicle off-campus, in violation of funding rules, which stipulate that capital items and events that have been funded through ASG must remain solely on-campus.

"We don't think they misused our funds but we think they may have used our funds for an event off-campus," Trivelli said, accompanied by a photograph of the vehicle in question taken from an evidently off-campus location.

With nothing to debate, ASG voted to audit the organization.

ASG also voted to censure, or give formal warning to, Senator Ryan O'Toole, an off-campus senator. According to ASG President Pro Tempore Brandon Patterson, O'Toole had missed four office hours and missed one ASG meeting, qualifying him for a censure. O'Toole was given the opportunity to explain his missing hours before student senate went into a vote on whether to officially censure O'Toole or not.

"I think this is pretty simple. It's not a removal, it's a censure," Dougherty said. "This (censure) is us just saying we aren't satisfied with the way things have been, and that we're going to move on."

ASG decided to censure O'Toole by a vote 36-7.

The meeting moved into the approval of a resolution thanking the Miami, Oxford and Hamilton police departments for keeping order during the Oct. 25 visit of the Westboro Baptist Church to Miami. However, consensus was split again as to the worth of the bill.

"I'm really confused as to why this is even a resolution," Dougherty said. "I think this is kind of a waste of this body's time. Although we are all grateful for what these departments did, we can do that unilaterally without having to write a full resolution about it. I think we should spend our time writing resolutions that actually have an impact for the university, not thanking people for doing what they were already getting paid to do."

Some senators felt that the resolution would set a standard that could cause problems in the future.

"I fear this will start a precedent where various student orgs will start to expect thanks from senate," said Senator Cole Tyman, accompanied by audible agreement from many other senators.

With no contention on the issue, the resolution was tabled indefinitely.

ASG also introduced three new pieces of legislation Tuesday night.  The first, a resolution supporting the final report from the university's calendar subcommittee, officially encourages the administration to look into making some noted large changes to the academic calendar.

The second is a piece of legislation encouraging the university to revamp the Miami Plan system.

The third is a bill that supports the establishment of an official on-campus listerv email list. While there is already an off-campus listserv, there is no on-campus listserv.

All three pieces of legislation will be discussed further during ASG's first meeting after Thanksgiving Break, Nov. 29.

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