New Committee addresses frustrations with advising

A new Academic Advising Committee was formed by ASSP senate to evaluate advising issues in conjunction with faculty senate.

The purpose of the committee is to "collect feedback from the students in regard to their academic advising experience, determine the expectations of a student in an academic advising relationship, and find innovative solutions to how students can better utilize academic advising," according to the written proposal.

This committee is a result of mounting frustration from students and faculty over advising issues.

"I think it’s easy to get frustrated because advisers (both academic and faculty) are not well publicized and utilized to their full capacity," Robinson said. "I feel for faculty advisers, they’ve got enough on their plates trying to fulfill class expectations and professor requirements. To get tenured or to stay on faculty they have to submit a certain amount of material to get published. To add to that, the responsibility to give counsel to students on what they should and shouldn’t take is almost unrealistic."

A common student complaint is that they could never get ahold of their advisers to schedule a meeting. Senior John Howe experienced this problem with his first adviser, who is no longer with SPU.

"The only way to get a hold of the guy was to hunt him down," Howe said. "I switched advisers pretty quick".

Cases like Howe’s, and other several factors, necessitated the formation of this committee, according to senate.

Senate felt the state of advising was worthy of scrutiny, in light of the fact that advising plays a major role in a student’s graduation process. The fact that student government in the past had not reasonably evaluated the topic was also a factor, according to the proposal.

A second purpose is to define the role of advising and clarify the part both students and faculty are expected to play. This is currently ambiguous to the student body, according to the proposal.

The advising committee was also formed in order to look forward and grapple with current frustrations in advising now, in order that those frustrations would not be compounded by potential changes in the university that Pedrick anticipates at a later date.

"The Academic Advising Committee will also help the students who get caught in the transition from quarters to semesters when it happens," Pedrick said. "If our academic advising is weak now, I can imagine how hard it would be for a student caught in the middle of that."

Justin Vergason serves as the liaison student for the Admissions, Advising and Retention Committee (AARC), whose mission is also to improve academic issues.

Part of the AARC’s function is to "recommend and review implementation of policies and standards in Enrollment Services, including admission, retention, registration and records, academic advising, academic probation, student financial aid and scholarships," according to the Faculty Handbook.

According to Vergason, the two main areas that the faculty committee is focused on this year consist of forming an academic advising policy and selectivity in admissions.

This new committee is just part of ASSP’s goal to switch its gears to focus more on academics rather than maintaining a heavy focus on residential and student life issues, said Vergason.

Vergason also said that the Academic Advising Committee has come to the conclusion that it actually needs to formalize a written statement of the advising policies, because the small amount of information that it has come across is scarce and vague.

The Faculty Adviser Handbook is one of the sources that provides "Basic Information for Advisers," giving a brief outline of Adviser/Advisee Responsibilities.

According to the Faculty Handbook, "The adviser is morally responsible to provide accurate and timely advice; the student is legally responsible to know and comply with university requirements and policies published in the catalog."

The current policy is expected to undergo extreme changes with the formation of the new committee, according to Vergason. However, what the changes are is unclear at this time.

Some major concerns the committee plans to address include feedback from students given to admissions, the faculty’s interest in helping in these matters and the lack of student motivation to meet with advisers.

Student concerns ranged from complaints that they had a hard time contacting their advisers, to having never met with their advisers at all.

Robinson is still awaiting a response from his adviser.

"I’m a senior and I have never met my official academic adviser. I’m sure he’s a great guy and does some great things for students, but so far my only experience with him is the two months I’ve waited to hear whether I’m on-schedule to graduate or not. Still have not heard, let’s keep our fingers crossed," Robinson said. "We still haven’t even addressed the real issue of academic advisers, a completely separate responsibility from that of a faculty adviser. With an undergraduate population close to 3,000, it’s crazy there is only one adviser per 500 students. There are six full-time academic advisers listed on the website. Maybe I’m crazy to think having someone who’s responsible for assisting me with academic difficulties, as defined on the website, is important, but if I’m just one of 500 people they oversee, how much real ‘assistance’ am I receiving?"

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Title: New Committee addresses frustrations with advising | Author: Sarah Decker | Section: News | Published Date: 2002-11-27 | Internal ID: 2997