By: MANDI STEFFEY
Newly-elected Student Government Association (SGA) president, Lee Cohen, said the wheels are already turning in the SGA office to better serve students this year. He is starting with one of his campaign promises.
“One of the things I’ve been working on already, which I’m excited about, was one of my campaign promises when I was running. I want to improve knowledge about the student grade grievance program here,” Cohen said. “I talked to some of the people who are in charge of this process and we’re hopefully going to appoint one of our [SGA] members onto the official academic committee that reviews the grievances.”
According to the IU South Bend registrar website, the grade grievance policy allows students to dispute a grade they disagree with, presenting the possibility for a grade change if the appeal makes its way to, and is approved by, the vice chancellor of academic affairs.
“We’re going to start working on a way for us to assist individuals through that process,” Cohen said. “Basically to help them understand the procedures involved. We want to get the word out that students can actually do this. I don’t think a lot of students actually know about it.”
He said the grade grievance process should be appealing to students because it gives them more potential control over their academic record.
The SGA does not officially have the OK from administration to work on this program, but Cohen said it’s one of the most important things he hopes to improve on campus this year. He hopes to have flyers concerning the program posted around campus within the next two months.
“I want nine out of ten people to know what it is and know that they have the option,” he said.
Cohen says the process is available for both students who feel they have been graded unfairly and students who fail to withdraw from courses and in turn fail the class.
“In most cases, with the students who don’t know how to withdraw, the committee involved with the process almost always rules in favor of the student,” he said. “But in cases where a student feels like they got a grade they didn’t deserve, from my understanding, those don’t always go in favor of the student. I would like to see more student representation and oversight in the process to make sure the students are being judged fairly.”
Cohen said that he also hopes to tweak student group funding. He said that if the SGA coordinates their events with Titan Productions and/or Student Life, the three groups can save money, which could ultimately lower the student activity fee that every student must pay.
While he said it wasn’t official yet and that the effects wouldn’t be seen this year, it’s something that he’s been thinking about. He said that lowering the student activity fee by even $5 would still be a triumph.
“It might be $5, but still, that’s an extra meal. It still matters,” Cohen said.
Changes like these are what Cohen said IUSB students should be caring about. He said by forming a relationship with the SGA, students may be able to influence where their money is being spent and how they can be better represented.
He also said some of the student activity fee is used on sports and coach salaries. The IUSB administration is currently in the works of adding three new sports on campus.
“The administration wants to pursue that, so I’d like to see them take full responsibility for that. We can take that money that’s being used and instead of paying for salaries for coaches, we can use that money to increase student activities on campus,” Cohen said. “As a student, you’re having $120 dollars taken from you every year for that. That’s a lot of money. Students should want to know where that money’s being spent.”
One way students can learn more about these issues is to attend an SGA meeting.
“I really do encourage people to come out to the meetings. It would be a lot more fun,” Cohen said. “I would personally like to see more students coming to ask questions and to be involved in that. It would be a fun process.”
SGA meetings are held weekly on Fridays at 1 p.m. in the Fireside meeting areas at the University Grill.