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Student Council releases preliminary survey results, passes legislation in final meeting of semester

Legislation included passing their summer budget and resolutions in support of open housing options, adjustments to summer session tuition

<p>A Resolution in Support of the Changes Proposed by the Diversity Engagement Committee in Regard to the University’s Gender Inclusive Housing Policies was passed. The resolution calls for support of open housing options at the University.&nbsp;</p>

A Resolution in Support of the Changes Proposed by the Diversity Engagement Committee in Regard to the University’s Gender Inclusive Housing Policies was passed. The resolution calls for support of open housing options at the University. 

This week, Student Council released preliminary results of its COVID-19 survey aimed at gathering student feedback on how the University handled COVID-19 adjustments. The survey received 1,386 responses out of the nearly 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students at the University. 

The Council also held its final general body meeting of the 2019-2020 academic year on Tuesday. In this meeting, one bill and three resolutions were entertained and passed unanimously.

The survey posed a series of questions regarding student satisfaction with the transition to online learning, the level of communication between the University and the student body, questions about Housing and Residence Life and inquiries about overall health and wellness. In the preliminary survey results, the responses to three questions about the grading system, the “opt-in” deadline and student input were given.

The first question asked students which possible grading system they prefer — regular letter grades, default credit/general credit/no credit with letter grade option, default credit/general credit/no credit with no letter grade option, universal pass or no preference. Of the four potential grading systems, the current grading system of default CR/GC/NC with a letter grade option got 49.4 percent of the vote. This system allowed for students to “opt-in” to letter grades by April 28.

The option for default CR/GC/NC with no letter grade received 26.8 percent of votes, universal pass received 17 percent and regular grades 5.8 percent. Only 0.9 percent of responses indicated no preference.

In the second poll, Student Council questioned if students should be able to see their final grades before the deadline to “opt-in” to receiving a letter grade if the grading system were to require them to do so.

A vast majority — 90.1 percent of respondents — said yes, they would prefer to see their final grades before choosing to receive a letter grade versus credit for a class. A small fraction of students — 5.1 percent — preferred to “opt-in” to letters before seeing final grades, and 4.8 percent had no preference.

The final question in the survey asks if students felt as though they were adequately consulted by administrative officials throughout operational changes due to COVID-19. 45.2 percent of students felt that students were not adequately consulted, 33.4 percent were unsure or did not know enough to answer and 21.4 percent felt that students were adequately consulted.

Data from the survey shows that of the students who have responded, 30.9 percent were first-years, 32.7 percent were second-years, 19.8 percent were third-years, 12.5 percent were fourth-years and a very small percentage of results came from students past their fourth-year, graduate students or professional students. The results came overwhelmingly from students in the College, who submitted 970 responses — making up 70 percent of the data.

“The results indicate a plurality of students feel that student input was not adequately considered by University officials in discussions regarding operational and policy changes,” the survey results said.

The survey will close at 11:59 p.m. May 15. 

During Tuesday’s meeting, SB20-32, A Bill to Approve the 2020 Summer Budget as Presented by the Director of Finance, was tabled at the previous week’s meeting on April 21, and passed Tuesday due to bylaws that require Student Council budget bills to be read twice before being voted on.

The first resolution passed was SR20-34 — A Resolution Calling for Increased Institutional Support for Civic Engagement. On behalf of the Legislative Affairs Committee and University Democrats, this resolution asks for increased civic engagement efforts from the University. 

A Resolution in Support of the Changes Proposed by the Diversity Engagement Committee in Regard to the University’s Gender Inclusive Housing Policies, SR20-35, was then entertained and passed. The resolution, sponsored by Ryan Alcorn and Evan Stavig, both second-year Representatives for the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as Isabella Liu, Chair of the Representative Body and second-year student in the College, calls for support of open housing options at the University. 

Only 5.9 percent of current undergraduate students said they knew about this gender inclusive option to provide for the LGBTQ+ community — the goal is to increase awareness and make the housing process easier for students who would like these arrangements.

During the public comments for the meeting, students from the Diversity Engagement Committee, Queer Student Union and University Democrats spoke in support of SR20-35 to make open housing more accessible in addition to the sponsors.

“Students who identify as LQBTQ+ can choose to live together in a dedicated space,” Alcorn said. “This actually has a lot of precedent at institutions such as the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois and the University of California, Berkeley, among others.”

The final resolution passed was SR20-36, calling for the adjustment of summer course tuition and fees. Many students feel as though expenses for Summer Sessions 1 and 2 should be lowered due to inaccessibility to the University services — such as University Transport System and use of Newcomb Hall — that some of these comprehensive fees cover. Adrian Mamaril, the resolution’s sponsor and first-year College student, spoke on the resolution.

The cost of summer undergraduate courses is listed as $407 per credit for Virginians and $1,492 for out-of-state students. There is an additional comprehensive fee — $284 for in-state and $344 for out-of-state — for remote-instruction-only sessions. For Virginians or out-of-state students taking on-Grounds sessions, this fee is $408 or $469, respectively.

In March, the University announced all summer classes offered during Sessions 1 and 2 — which run from May 18 to June 13 and June 15 to July 11, respectively — will move online. The University is to make a decision about in-person summer programs scheduled to take place after July 1 — like Summer Session 3 — by June 1.

“I’ve been in discussion with a lot of the constituents, and a lot of them have had their internships or summer plans cancelled,” Mamaril said. “In order to make use of time or be more productive, some have signed up for summer classes.”

However, many of these students feel prevented from enrolling in these Summer Sessions because of the lack of tuition adjustment. They do not want to pay the normal tuition and fee amounts for online classes.

“[SR20-36] calls for an adjustment of the fees downwards so we can allow more people to access Summer Session 1 and 2,” Mamaril said.

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