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Council approves body to increase student input

Members of the Arts and Sciences Council approved the creation of a new committee Thursday that will give students greater input on undergraduate policy issues.

The council voted at its meeting to approve a bylaw change that will establish a Committee on Academic Standards. Duke Student Government's vice president for academic affairs and two at-large student members-one from the Pratt School of Engineering and one from the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences--will serve on the committee.

Political science professor Peter Feaver has agreed to chair the committee, said Suzanne Shanahan, chair of the council and an assistant professor of sociology. She added that the committee will address a broad range of issues including the pass-fail and underloading policies, which emerged as concerns from DSG this year.

"What we wanted to think about were areas where policies and standards affected undergraduate education and faculty teaching of undergraduates in particular," she said. "We won't be talking about housing or co-curricular issues unless they directly intersect with curricular issues."

The committee was formed because the council was preoccupied this year with creating new majors and failed to address many of DSG's academic issues, DSG President Paul Slattery, a senior, wrote in an e-mail.

"The vision is to get all of the necessary players in the room to address issues that are ultimately within the jurisdiction of faculty governance," he said. "It means that students will have a direct line to propose things to an [Arts and Sciences] committee."

In other business:

George McLendon, dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences, discussed a new policy that will give professors the option of not making their course evaluations available to students on ACES.

"I understand that there are a fraction of the faculty who believe that all evaluations are intrinsically evil--that is what it is, I am not going to get into a debate on the subject," he said.

McLendon said he estimated that about 70 percent of professors would be glad to share their evaluations with students because most professors receive positive evaluations.

"This way they can get more informed choices than on a street corner with their friends," he said.

The council also approved the creation of a Latino/Latina Studies certificate and debated changes to the Cross Cultural Inquiry graduation requirement. Dean of Trinity College Robert Thompson said he recommended stricter requirements for which courses will carry a CCI code.

"When you have 30 percent of the courses carrying the code, you lose the intentionality aspect of students making decisions about a particular course in order to satisfy the learning objective," he said.


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