Students and faculty alike raised questions and concerns about the new three-semester calendar to intently listening officials at a town hall forum sponsored by the Academic Senate on Tuesday.

The forum, moderated by Senate Vice President A.C. Panella, included Senate President Dustin Hanvey, Associated Students President Simon Fraser, Assistant Superintendant  Vice President Robert Miller, Assistant Superintendant Vice President Robert Bell, Librarian Daniel Haley and Counselor Dean Cynthia Olivo.

English Instructor Martha Bonilla questioned the rationale behind moving winter session to a second summer session.

“If we don’t have the funding for winter intersession, then how can we move it to summer?” she asked.

Miller explained the shift had to do with the timing of possible funding from the state. “If Proposition 30 passes, we will have an additional $6.7 million for [class] sections,” he said.

Miller also said the Full Time Equivalent Status budget money for the 2011 – 2012 fiscal year had not yet completely arrived from the state. “When we receive the additional money from the state … we will have more money to fund more classes,” he said.

Bonilla continued to question the decision to shift to a three semester calendar, saying the decision was hasty and was not given proper presentation to the shared governance groups on campus.

Bell explained the calendar had been an ongoing discussion, but that he hoped the discussions among faculty, students and the administration would be much more transparent.

“[The calendar] isn’t a one size fits all, but we are going to work with a much more open, broad, and direct feedback from students and faculty,” he said.

Others questioned the effectiveness of shorter terms that may occur during the summer intersession and the beginning of spring semester.

Bonilla was concerned students would be pushed to take an overwhelming number of units in one semester. “Having such short sessions might encourage students to take up to 20 units or more. How is this going to promote student success if they are going to be overloaded?” she said.

Counselor Olivo explained the overload petition process for students who wish to take 19.3 units or more per semester. Students must submit a petition to take 19.3 units or more. Counselors check a student’s past academic record to see if he or she may be able to handle a high workload.

Students can be denied if the counselor does not believe he or she can cope with an overloaded class schedule, Olivo explained.

“We are always working with the best interest of the students in mind,” she said.

Some faculty members were concerned they would not have enough time to plan their classes without the winter intersession.

Bell explained there would be a discussion with faculty to assist with workload contract fulfillment.


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