Students Say Senate Lacks Input

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As UC Berkeley's Academic Senate prepares to meet today, some students said that their views are not strongly represented in the important policy-making body.

The senate is made up of all members of the faculty and is responsible for decisions involving academic policies, including admissions criteria, graduation requirements and curriculum.

At least one undergraduate student and one graduate student serve on each of the 18 senate committees.

ASUC Academic Vice President Ally McNally said students on the committees are not as effective as they could be because they usually do not start serving actively until one or two months into the fall semester.

The ASUC academic vice president, who does not take office until the summer, makes appointments to the senate. McNally said the time schedule means appointments are usually not made until the fall semester begins.

Further, student committee members do not begin their duties until a few weeks into the fall semester. As a result, the students are often poorly informed about many of the issues which arise throughout the year, McNally said.

"(It is) difficult for students to have knowledge and background if they're starting partway into the semester," she said.

Maureen Morley, executive director of the Academic Senate, said appointing students for the following year's committees before the school year ends might solve this problem.

"Ideally, what we might strive to do is see that appointments are made in spring, so students start right in the fall," she said.

McNally said the outgoing academic vice president should choose students for the next year's committees.

"The best solution outside of the Academic Senate changing their structure would be for the ASUC to (say) it's okay for the VP to appoint people at the end of their term," she said.

McNally also said that although students are interested in involvement with academic affairs, many do not know about the opportunities to serve on committees.

"It's not apathy; it's that students aren't aware of what's going on in the bureaucracy," she said.

McNally added that extra effort is required to recruit students for committee positions outside of the student government.

"If you want to reach out outside the walls of the ASUC, it's going to take longer," she said.

The academic vice president attends one meeting of the academic senate each semester to make a speech addressing issues important to students.

McNally suggested that making the ASUC academic vice president a voting member of the senate would give more of a voice to student issues.

"(The academic senate members) enjoy that student participation," she said. "They've invited me to speak several times. But I think (the relationship) could be improved and formalized."


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