Senate looks at First Year Experience
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 02:02
Normally a fairly quiet and empty meeting, the ASOSU Senate had 20 visitors in attendance for Tuesday night’s meeting. The majority of the Senate’s guests were in attendance to hear Vice Provost for Student Affairs Dr. Larry Roper address the new First Year Experience plan about to be implemented by Oregon State University administration.
The first item on the agenda was Dr. Roper’s presentation, but due to a time conflict this had to be pushed back until his arrival and the Senate moved straight into new business.
The first item up for discussion was the “Membership Clarification Act,” meant to change voting eligibility for OSU students in regards to ASOSU membership and their elections.
According to the bill, OSU students at Corvallis have access to services paid through student fees, while students at other campuses do not have as much access.
The bill will change eligibility to participate in ASOSU elections to “Corvallis campus students paying the student incidental fee during the academic term in which an election occurs.” And members of ASOSU will change to “Corvallis campus students who pay the student incidental fee,” as well.
The legislation was passed and will go into effect immediately after being signed in by the ASOSU president, vice president and speaker of the house.
After the passing of the new legislation, Roper arrived and discussion on the First Year Experience began with mainly questions regarding exemptions for students who wish to join a Greek community or co-op.
According to Roper, the motivation behind this plan was to help increase student retention by placing incoming freshman into an OSU-monitored environment with a culture facilitating academic success. Many hours of planning have already occurred and the report is finished. Plans to move into the implementation phase are being made. OSU may be “late to the game,” as many universities around the country have already implemented similar plans.
“Living in resident housing significantly increases a [student’s] chance to succeed,” said Roper, citing research regarding the requirements being proposed. “We are essentially creating an undergraduate college that [provides] resources and more support at the level students need them.”
The conversation quickly moved to the effects this plan will have on the Greek community and co-op housing, with questions of exemption plans for students or houses from the requirements made by the First Year Experience program.
Roper explained how the monitoring of those locations would be extremely difficult because the university does not own those houses and does not have members within them to monitor behavior and conditions of off-campus housing. Roper cited everything from academic success to light checks and refrigerator temperatures as requirements that would have to be met.
“There is an element of the conversation we don’t want to get into publicly,” Roper said. “There is dramatic unevenness in the condition of those houses and how their students perform academically…I’m not negotiating with people and asking them to be OK with the plan. I’m putting forth a plan.”
Roper went on to explain how there have already been various conversations and committees that have met regarding this topic and student participation was there along the way. He also said this was a collaborative effort with many different organizations on campus represented, where the decisions made were backed by research and much effort to avoid taking a position of arrogance.
“We are not saying that we don’t care about what students think, but there is a level of stewardship we have to maintain,” Roper said.
The allowance of an exemption from this program will be for married students, students who live within a 30-mile radius, students who are 21 or older, veterans, religious conflicts, disabilities and students who have been out of school for more than a year.
Senator Bancroft asked if gender and sexual identity, income level, or students’ expected family contributions would be factors of exemption. Dr. Roper said they would not.
After a long discussion, Roper said he would be willing to come back anytime and answer further questions, and encouraged students to go onto the website and look over the plan in its totality.
After Roper left, Matthew Busse, president of the Varsity House, explained to the senators that he has been a part of this conversation for a while. According to Busse, the majority of private co-ops are in support of the legislation asking to delay the implementation of the plan until 2014-2015.
Busse said there are already avenues of academic success that are just as comparable to that of resident housing. Larry Roper and OSU President Ed Ray are aware of these options. He also stated his co-op has a retention rate of 98 percent and the average grade point averages of houses and fraternities are above the levels the university says they are.
The senate was meant to hear six pieces of legislation; four for first readings and two up for vote. However, during the question and answer session with Roper, a senator had to leave and quorum was lost, requiring the Senate to close the meeting and move agenda items on the table to next week.
Ricky Zipp, news reporter