As the faculty senate readied to approve a motion Thursday that would allow professors to delay passing out syllabi until the second week of class, Kyle Braithwaite noticed a drawback for students and spoke up.
Weber State University’s student body president essentially said if the motion passes as is, it would mean students wouldn’t always have a syllabus to help them decide whether they could keep up with a given course load before the end of the week-long grace period in which students can drop a class for a full tuition refund.
The faculty senate acknowledged Braithwaite’s concern, dropping the clause from the motion. Although the focus of the motion was not to push back the deadline for handing out syllabi but to standardize the content required in syllabi, if it passed in it’s original form and a student waited until the second week of a semester to drop a class, they would only receive a 90 percent refund on their tuition.
Braithwaite’s comments led to a change in the amendment: professors must now distribute their syllabi within the first week of a new semester. If students review the syllabus and decide not to take the class, they can then drop the course within the first week and will not be penalized financially.
The changes that did pass will help students, said Colleen Garside, faculty senate chair and a professor in the communications department.
“The proposal that passed with syllabi is going to be very useful for students,” Garside said. “It brings everything together, and with that, coupled with the student code, they will know that they have a right to that syllabus by the end of the first week of class. That’s very useful for them so that they know what to expect so that they can plan accordingly. Before today, the policy was very unspecific. We put it all in one place so that students and faculty know what they have to do, but now we’ve added some changes.”
Professors are not expected to hand out a printed version of the syllabus. They can be posted online, emailed or distributed in other forms, as long as the student somehow has access to it by the end of the first week of the semester.
“It just needs to be published,” Garside said. “As long as it is accessible by students, it counts as a syllabus.”
In addition to syllabus guidelines, Azenett Garza, another senate chair, discussed WSU’s fall funding report. According to the report, the funding categories of research, instructional improvement and the Hemingway Faculty Vitality Fund issued funding to six of the seven colleges on campus. Of those colleges, the College of Arts and Humanities received $10,603 of funding, which was 42 percent of the total money awarded. The College of Science came second; it received $7,545, or 30 percent, of the total funding.
The faculty senate meets once a month to discuss proposals, comments and concerns among the faculty at WSU.