The Undergraduate Student Government discussed potential changes to the academic year and the possibility of a resolution on Puerto Rico along with other issues in its weekly meeting Nov. 12.
In response to the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on Puerto Rico, U-Councilor Diego Negrón-Reichard ’18 brought forth the prospect of a USG resolution on the disaster.
He has decided to put to a vote on Nov. 19 a request that the University admit a select number of university students in Puerto Rico for the 2018 spring term at no cost. According to Negrón-Reichard, the adoption of this resolution by the University would have an “impact on people’s lives and futures.”
Peer institutions, including Cornell University, Brown, and New York University, have all agreed to receive, tuition-free, over 50 Puerto Rican students for the 2018 spring semester.
This policy is precedented in the enrollment of 24 Tulane University students at the University tuition-free following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
However, other members articulated objections to Negrón-Reichard’s proposal on the grounds that unilateral resolutions from the Senate to the University administration have often backfired and that the desired expansion of such a program to Mexico and the U.S. Virgin Islands would ultimately prove unfeasible. Members discussed issues of housing accommodations and culture shock.
“We have to be pragmatic in terms of how many resources the University will be willing to spend and pick our battles,” U-Councilor Ethan Marcus ’18 said.
Deputy Dean of the College Elizabeth Colagiuri and Calendar Committee and Academics Committee members Olivia Ott ’20 and Connor Pfeiffer ’18 presented a new update on the progress of the Ad Hoc Committee on Calendar Reform.
Pfeiffer is a member of The Daily Princetonian editorial board.
Composed of faculty members, two undergraduate students, and one graduate student, the Calendar Committee plans to conduct surveys in January after gathering feedback in the preceding months. In March, it hopes to submit a definitive proposal to the Faculty Advisory Committee on Policy.
“If we were to get a calendar approved at the end of this academic year by the faculty, I anticipate we would have another two years under the current calendar before the new calendar would go into effect,” Colagiuri said.
In stark contrast to the University’s calendar, peer institutions start in late August or early September and end the first semester in December. Additionally, final exams and reading periods for peer institutions take place before winter break instead of after.
Adjusting the academic year could create the possibility of a wintersession, a flexible two-week space in January. This period would allow for classes to bridge two interconnected courses, workshops on such subjects as the programming language R, student research, travel, and service.
In addition, the lengths of the fall break, reading period, and final exams also remain in consideration. If the exam week shortens, students may need to take more than one exam in 24 hours. Nonetheless, Colagiuri asserts that the Calendar Committee understands “how many conflicts that would create.”
Questions soon emerged on the delays in the modifications to the academic calendar.
“I must admit I am a little frustrated with this process,” Marcus said. “Why do we need another three months of town halls and another set of surveys?”
Ott maintained that because the calendar has existed in its current form since 1939, the air of tradition has contributed to the process’s stagnation. According to Ott, much of the faculty opposes any shifts in calendar format.
“It is an exercise in persuading people,” added Colagiuri.
Furthermore, as well as approving the creation of Alpha Omega Ministry, Classics Club, Filipinos Living in Princeton, Hoop Zine, Princeton MedHack, Princeton Student Veteran Alliance, and Princeton University Physics Competition, the Senate voted to confirm George Rettaliata ’21, Yousef Elzalabany ’20, and Sara Hailu ’21 to the Academics Committee and Kevin Liu ’18 to the Honor Constitution Review Committee.
Although the Senate decided to postpone a vote on an amendment regarding leadership and membership to the Subcommittee on Eating Club Diversity, the Senate did successfully deliberate on the addition of a bus for the Boston route this Thanksgiving. The possible future movement of printers from low-traffic areas to high-traffic locations is also now in progress after some positive discussions with the Office of Information Technology.
The vote to call for the University’s admission of Puerto Rican students tuition-free next semester will take place at the next USG meeting on Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m.