In a recent letter to The Spectator, Dr. Aubrey Fowler wrote about creating a “culture of change” through his proposed longer schedule for the university. He has never served on the faculty senate scheduling committee; I served for three years.
He probably doesn’t know that the “new plan” which would give VSU the longest school year in the state of Georgia is not new: versions of it were suggested twice in the three years I served. Both times, it was vehemently rejected by the SGA. They argued that such a plan was an enemy to the student body.
Why? Both times the SGA initially suggested the idea themselves. Plans proposed to the scheduling committee are researched for their impact; as SGA senators and faculty and staff investigated the idea, we discovered an important fact: lengthening the school year costs students time and money.
Time cost is straightforward: breaks and more days for finals are great, but days come from somewhere: summer break.
A longer school year and shortened summer break in turn cost students money. Students living off campus with a year-long rental contract will feel less impact, but students with pro-rated contracts will pay an extra week’s rent, ranging from $85 to $130.
Students who live on campus are more vulnerable. Housing may charge more rent if we lengthen school.
When the bill for an extra week of water and electricity or an extra week’s salary for RA’s comes due, who will pay that bill? Students. If students aren’t asked to pay directly, won’t those bills be paid out of the university’s operating budget? Who pays for that? Students.
There is also summer income. If we lengthen the schedule, students lose a week of work: at minimum wage, a full-time job (or two part-time jobs) equals $290 a week.
SGA has always opposed adding extra days, especially breaks. What has changed? Can students afford to pay for more break days, and do they want to?
An SGA survey in the fall asked students to pick their top-choice schedule. Students were not told there would be a cost when many of them chose a plan with an extra week of school. Now, faculty senators are being pressured to vote for this “student choice.”
Students, is this what you want? Do you want the longest school year in the state? Are you okay with the costs that you will be asked to pay for those breaks? We want to know.
Text your SGA representatives and let them know. Let your professors know in class today. Fellow faculty, please ask your students. Forward what you find to the faculty senator in your department or college.
We will be pressured to vote for the longer, more expensive school year this afternoon at 3:30.
Dr. Maren Clegg Hyer