Course syllabus service unveiled, petition heard

JON FINKE FROM DOTCIO PRESENTS on the new course syllabus web application.

Jon Finke, Senior Systems Programmer for the Department of the Chief Information Officer, discussed the exact details of the syllabus catalog project of the Academic Affairs Committee with the Student Senate. Finke wrote the code for the project and explained how, for a seemingly small front end, there are a lot of back end moving parts. Grand Marshal Marcus Flowers ’16 told the Senate that this demonstration is the culmination of a couple years of work for the AAC. The syllabus catalog will be a website where students can look at the syllabi of past classes, and it will be searchable by both course and professor name.

Finke stressed to the Senate that the scope of this site is only past classes, meaning that the syllabi for ongoing classes right now will not be available. He also added that only data from the most recent two years of a course will be available. The website will be accessible to students on the Student Information System, but Finke told the Senate, “I just write this stuff, I don’t release it.”

The source of the data will be the Digital Measures system where all faculty are required to upload their syllabi and course information to for the Rensselaer accreditation process. Finke also warned about the possibility for dirty data, because usually Digital Measures data has historically stayed private and he didn’t “know if faculty know we’re doing this. I didn’t tell them.” This project is going to be released to the general student body as soon as the final bureaucratic red tape is cleared, according to Flowers.

The Senate also heard the petition from the Web Technologies Group petitions site, Stop Wasting Paper on Printer Cover Sheets. The sponsor of the petition did not respond to inquiries about presenting it. The Senate discussed it with “a pseudo blank motion,” as Flowers said. Finke commented on the issue, telling the Senate that he is the one who wrote the current printing accounting system. He explained that the reason for cover sheets was to make sure people could find their print output and avoid needless double printing. Finke said that a move towards a PaperCut accounting system was being investigated.

If such a move were to happen, the current per job charge (regardless of how many pages are printed) would no longer exist. He also hinted at the possibility of a system where students would sign in at the printer, and their print jobs would print once they arrived at the printer. However, he stressed that the option was only in the most preliminary stages of investigation and that nothing has been definitively finalized.

Paul Ilori ’17, co-chairman of the Rules and Elections Committee, gave the Senate an update on the constitutionality of the freshmen E-Board appointments from the meeting on October 13, and said that R&E decided that they weren’t constitutional. That being said, Ilori publicly supported an exception to the constitution as he wants to see freshmen involved on E-Board.

Michael Han ’16, Chairman of the Facilities and Services Committee, told the Senate he was not confident that his projects would get done this semester like he had originally hoped. The project to put tables in the Darrin Communications Center and Sage Laboratories hit a roadblock due to budget pitfalls in replacing the current tables in the McNeil Room of the Rensselaer Union. The water fountain project has run into a few problems with miscommunication.

During the Grand Marshal Report, given by Vice-Chair Jessica Krajewski ’16 because Flowers had to leave the meeting early, Ilori brought up concerns that the Senate has not been giving Flowers the respect he deserves. In his opinion, the Senate has been openly insubordinate to Flowers on numerous occasions. A particular point of frustration for Ilori was a noted lack of attendance at the annual GM/PU Brunch on Sunday, October 25. He implored members of the Senate to realize the commitment Flowers puts into making the Senate function.