The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

SGA addresses semester issues in letter to Faculty Senate

SGA addresses semester issues in letter to Faculty Senate - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Vice President for Academic Affairs Mike O'Brien speaks at a Faculty Senate meeting March 6,2020 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Photo By Maegan Mendoza

The Student Government Association asked the Faculty Senate to take in consideration issues that students have experienced this semester, including scheduling changes that some professors made to their classes. 

Allyssa Atkinson, SGA president, and Armando Alanis, SGA vice president, wrote a letter to the senate on Sept. 20 to “find solutions to these challenges and establish frameworks that will benefit students and faculty as we move into the future.” 

The SGA released the letter to the public Oct. 15.

They addressed students’ scheduling concerns, including professors changing class times from those originally listed, changing schedules from one week to another and creating online surveys to determine a meeting time. They also included an example of how one student had two classes scheduled at the same time after times were changed.

“Irregularities like this have created an environment where students do not feel that they are getting the maximum value out of their classes,” SGA wrote in the letter. “Whether it is because of changes in times or because the new schedules create conflicts with work schedules or family life, these changes have left students with little room for flexibility.”

They also included information from a survey by the Office of Family Engagement on how the changes affected students. According to the letter, the survey concluded students have needs because of the virtual format, such as having professors take into consideration time restraints students have, understanding that many students are parents and also have other priorities and being flexible with scheduling. The study also found that 2,367 students attending A&M-San Antonio are parents.

“This data is impactful because, when students sign up for classes during registration time, they do so being mindful of their personal schedules,” SGA wrote. “By changing class times, dates and attendance policies, faculty create conditions that parents find difficult to cope with when they are also taking care of their children.”

SGA also discussed its letter at an SGA Senate meeting, with senators for the association who represent the different colleges along with other members, Sept. 29 on WebEx.

Alanis addressed the number of concerns they had received from students and SGA members because of professors changing times and attendance policies and other general challenges. Alanis said he and Atkinson spoke to Dr. Mike O’Brien, provost and vice president of academic affairs, and were instructed to have students send O’Brien emails about concerns and issues. They also said O’Brien will “make sure that these things that students were going through do not happen again in the next semester.”

O’Brien was not available for an interview before deadline, but he is scheduled to speak with The Mesquite next week.

Atkinson asked SGA members at the Sept. 29 meeting to reach out to students to see if they have had problems. The association used social media as a form of outreach but their biggest source was the association’s email.

“Really speak out to one another and help as much as you can because power speaks in numbers, and that’s what he’s really looking for,” Atkinson said at the meeting. “So we can all have each other’s backs so this will not happen, or we can try to make it happen less for the spring semester.”

She said she has personally had problems with this issue and knows other members have had this same problem as well.

They said at the meeting the letter was sent to the Faculty Senate that day and let their members know they will continue to advocate for students and this topic will be recurring. 

“It’s our (the faculty) responsibility to keep to the agreements we made to the students at the start of the semester and when they enrolled,” Dr. Joseph Simpson, president of the Faculty Senate, said at their meeting on Oct. 2. 

To date, the senate has not released a response to the letter. 

The senate brainstormed points addressing SGA’s letter at the meeting. Simpson is working on the response letter and will share it with the senators to reach an agreement before responding to the student government.  

The items addressed in SGA’s letter have not been exclusive to A&M-San Antonio. Similar occurrences have taken place at the Corpus Christi, Kingsville and Laredo campuses, O’Brien said at the Faculty Senate meeting.

About the Authors

Veronica Valdes
Veronica Valdes
Veronica Valdes is a senior communication major at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and is Editor-in-Chief at The Mesquite. She graduated from Northwest Vista College in 2018. The West Texas native traded in her hometown’s sand dunes for San Antonio’s city lights. Veronica now dedicates her spare time to explore every nook and cranny the city has to offer; she enjoys trying unique restaurants and loves live music. Veronica plans on pursuing a career in journalism upon graduating.
Clarissa Martinez
Clarissa Martinez
Clarissa Martinez is a junior communications major at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. She loves writing about important issues and also loves exploring interesting topics, such as movie and music reviews. In her spare time, she loves listening to music, watching movies and television shows, and going to concerts. In the future, she hopes to end up with a career in Film and Television Production or in Journalism.

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