The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Senate persists with task force legislation before final decision

Tuesday marked the day on which President Turner received reports from vice presidents responsible for the administrative areas covered in the report of SMU’s Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention released on Jan. 31, 2008.

As the president considers those suggestions before deciding by the end of the semester on the implementation of each, student senators continued the trend of recent weeks by approving two resolutions Tuesday directly relating to the Task Force Report.

The report’s recommendation to require more Friday morning classes did not resonate well with senators, who passed a resolution encouraging the administration to reconsider the suggestion.

After amending a second resolution last week to address the specific number of withdrawals allowed per student, senators unanimously voted to recommend that the university not adopt a new withdrawal policy of any kind.

“We want students to have a choice,” said co-author of the bill and Student Body Vice President Bethany Peters, defending students’ rights to schedule their classes free from mandated Friday mornings.

“The task force has good intentions, but it shouldn’t punish everyone by speculating that everybody goes out Thursday nights,” she said.

The task force report recommends that every college and school hold “a significant number of classes on Friday mornings,” specifically mentioning fundamental accounting courses (listed as ACCT 2311 and 2312 this spring, changing to ACCT 2301 and 2302 in the fall).

Compared to this spring’s schedule of classes, which offers zero accounting classes on Fridays, access.smu.edu shows that of six different times available this fall for the two courses, only one is currently on a Wednesday-Friday schedule.

Cox Senator Marc Bullock assured there will be more Friday offerings for those courses in the fall.

“The option [for Friday classes] already exists in Cox,” he said, after speaking with several assistant deans in Cox in recent weeks. “No matter what President Turner says, they’ve already agreed to hold more Friday classes.”

“I just feel that this [piece of legislation] may not be necessary,” Bullock said.

Not one senator agreed that limiting the number of withdrawals would be beneficial to students. Although the current policy allows an unlimited number of withdrawals, recommendations were proposed to make a change.

The task force report’s reasoning: “Too liberal a drop policy can discourage students from making academics their first priority and enables them to drop those courses that are the most demanding.”

Authored by Aaron Martinez, Whitney Stenger and Charles Slick, the bill sends a unified message from the senate to the administration that students do not want restrictions placed on the number of withdrawals they can make while at SMU.

Today’s unanimous vote holds no guarantees, however.

“It does not necessarily mean that the administration will comply with the resolution,” Martinez said, “but a unanimous passage sends a strong message to the administration that this is what the students want – or in the case of this resolution, what they don’t want.”

The senate legislation notes that SMU’s benchmark schools, including Duke, Tulane, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest, do not have any policy limiting the number of withdrawals “and have still managed to maintain a strong academic environment” – a primary goal of the task force.

Stenger agreed, saying, “If the SMU administration is really intent on having academic and procedural standards like these schools, then SMU won’t adopt a class drop cap.”

According to Martinez, the benchmark school provision proves that limiting students’ withdrawals is not necessarily correlated to high academic performance.

Both pieces of legislation will immediately be submitted to the administration for consideration.

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