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On Wednesday, May 9th, the Faculty Senate voted in favor of a resolution to change the university’s academic calendar for the first time in thirty years. The Student Assembly along with Cornell Minds Matter, a mental health organization on campus, denounces the resolution’s passage. The original purpose of evaluating the academic calendar was to find ways to reduce student stress after the 2009-2010 academic calendar year when there were six student suicides. Nevertheless, the Faculty Senate’s resolution does the opposite: if implemented, the new calendar – which shortens study week, exam week, and Senior Week – would increase students’ stress and harm their mental health.
The Student Assembly denounces the lack of conversation that occurred and most importantly, the lack of student input that was allowed in this process. Even though both undergraduate student representatives on the Calendar Committee voted against the proposed changes, the Calendar Committee continued to move forward. Moreover, despite pleas for the student body’s mental health and wellbeing, such as a petition signed by over 1,500 students and a letter co-signed by over 50 students leaders who opposed the changes, the Faculty Senate ignored students’ opinions in the passage of the proposed changes.
Additionally, the changes passed by a slim majority of the Faculty Senate – only 55% – and the Student Assembly sees this as a strong indicator of the shortcomings of the proposed calendar, and an indication that there should be further input from all stakeholders involved. Further input is especially important because of the lack of discussion at today’s meeting. The Faculty Senate abruptly cut off debate even though it was clear more representatives desired to voice their opinions. Specifically, the Faculty Senate only allowed a maximum of two undergraduate students to speak, each for a single minute, at today’s meeting – in effect silencing the voice of the undergraduate student body.
The Student Assembly calls on President Skorton and Provost Fuchs to reevaluate the Faculty Senate’s resolution and work with the committee to draft a calendar that will protect the mental health and well being of the undergraduate student body. Members of the Faculty Senate and Calendar Committee said that any calendar is “compromise” and “everyone will dislike something about a new calendar.” However, the Student Assembly believes that the mental health of the student body can never be sacrificed for a “compromise.”
Please see the Student Body Response to the Academic Calendar, which includes a letter to the Faculty Senate, and student’s responses to the calendar changes.
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