SGA to discuss syllabus availability

Mike Stunson

Professors are currently not required to provide their syllabi for classes on TopNet, but the Student Government Association is trying to change that.

A resolution will be up for approval at next week’s SGA meeting in support of adopting a policy that promotes online access to course information.

Executive Vice President Kendrick Bryan said the current policy is outdated.

“The current policy states syllabi must be posted on department offices and websites, and some are even failing to do that,” Bryan said. “I feel access to course information is essential to college and higher education.”

Bryan said he would prefer for syllabi to be available on TopNet before students register for their classes. But the resolution would require syllabi to be posted before the add/drop date once the class starts, which is the fifth day after the first day of classes.

University Senate Chair Kelly Madole said having syllabi available before priority registration would be “impossible” for faculty.

“The faculty would not have enough time during the school year to prepare for upcoming classes,” said Madole, a psychology professor. “Most of that preparation comes in the winter and summer breaks. I can spend weeks and weeks reading articles and books figuring out what to use for my classes.”

If SGA were to approve the resolution, the proposal would have to be recommended by the University Senate before being approved by Provost Gordon Emslie.

Emslie said he hopes the two organizations can come to a mutual resolution.

“I do believe it is important for students to have their course information in a timely matter, but whether it can be available by the beginning of the semester is something for the University Senate to decide,” he said.

Madole said the University Senate will listen to SGA’s proposal, but she isn’t sure how the rest of the faculty will respond.

“I understand (Bryan’s) point, but faculty may not be willing to take a large amount of time out of a current semester to prepare for the next one,” she said. “They would end up falling behind in the classes they are currently teaching.”

Bryan said he would like to see this proposal in effect by the beginning of the next academic year.

“Students will support this, and all we will need is support from the University Senate,” he said.

SGA will discuss the proposal at the group’s next meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Downing University Center Room 305. The meeting is open to the public.