Academic Affairs Committee progress detailed

Career fair holiday, ALAC drop-in tutoring, research symposiums currently topics of discussion

IN ITS LAST MEETING OF THE SEMESTER, THE STUDENT SENATE DISCUSSED the need for more informal study spaces on campus.

In the last Student Senate meeting of the Fall 2017 semester, the three main points of business were an update from the Academic Affairs Committee, a presentation of the Interfraternity Council’s state of Greek life letter, and the approval of an informal learning spaces update letter written by the Facilities and Services Committee.

Greek Senator Sean Ferracioli ’18 presented the letter regarding the current state of Greek life on campus that was written by Marvin Cosare ’18, the 100th Interfraternity Council president, and approved 20-0-1 by the Rensselaer Interfraternity Council Executive Board. He read the letter (which can be found at and then took questions. In response to Graduate Senator Kinshuk Panda’s question asking if this would be a one-off letter or an annual occurrence, Ferracioli said that it was intended to be a one-time update, but that could change.

The update by the Academic Affairs Committee covered what’s going on in several different areas of focus. The first part of the presentation was from the Undergraduate Research Subcommittee, whose current goal is to connect students with faculty to increase undergraduate research participation across campus. While originally the committee wanted to focus on expanding the annual research symposium, it has now switched focus and wants to expand the number of undergraduates involved with research by connecting them with faculty doing research and showing them that it is easy to get involved. The committee believes that this will cause the symposium to expand naturally.

Next, the presentation moved to Advising Learning and Assistance Center tutoring and a plan to eventually have online drop-in tutoring. They hope that this will make ALAC more accessible. They believe that the online tutoring will be convenient for quick questions, appeal to different learning styles, and increase awareness among students that ALAC exists.

Class of 2020 Senator Joshua Thomas then discussed the goal to assure adequate support is provided to underrepresented majors, also known as niche majors. He said that they are reviewing what the current career fair representation is, and once they determine that, they will pursue ways to increase representation if it proves to be an issue. They are also looking into other areas in which niche majors can be supported, and in the future will contact the department heads of those majors.

Thomas also said that they are working on a proposal suggesting an implementation of a career fair holiday. They have created Senate survey questions to ensure that they are acting on public opinion, and have also asked which day students would be willing to give up for the career fair.

Moving on to talk about their focus on The Arch and The Arch Task Force, Thomas said that they plan to review multiple survey results, identify the most pressing academic issue, and develop a proposal to address it.

The committee is also working on getting professors to put assignments into writing so that there isn’t a communication barrier with students who are less fluent in English.

The final item on the agenda was the approval of a letter written by the Study Spaces Subcommittee and approved by the Facilities and Services Committee. The letter was presented by Class of 2019 Senators Nancy Bush and Kinsley Rowan and discussed the need and options for additional informal study spaces on campus. The letter was approved by a vote of 17-0-2.