Portland State University and the student government, the Associated Students of PSU, have many committees and boards that are solely operated by the students of the university. The Academic Affairs Committee is one of these groups. However, the committee itself is student-run, while Academic Affairs is administrative.
The Academic Affairs Committee held a meeting at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20 and approved the goals they will work to achieve this term and, ultimately, in the 2016–17 school year. In attendance were Director Jose Rojas Fallas and Senators Emily Korte and Jaclyn Humphry.
Academic Affairs wants to increase feelings of community at PSU. To do so, they are pushing attendance at school functions such as football games. “Our goal in promoting athletics and school activities is to create a school identity. This, we think, will improve school life and the overall experience at PSU,” Rojas Fallas said. “Promoting university athletics is a way to encourage students to engage in the larger community of the university while promoting a vital function of the university.”
Additional goals of the committee are to work with the administrative Academic Affairs team to educate students about the strategic plan PSU has for a website redesign, and also about the Smith 2020 plan that was introduced last year but voted down. Rojas Fallas believes that the Smith 2020 plan, which addresses remodeling the Smith Memorial Student Union, would have been voted in if students were more educated and aware of what it was they were voting for, and might be passed if they reintroduce the proposal after more student outreach.
One concern Rojas Fallas has is deciding the best way to reach the student body. The committee is trying to determine if emails sent by ASPSU, or by the university, or by individual departments are more liable to be opened and read by students.
“The Academic Affairs Committee has established goals, and we’re working on distributing them to students through department faculty, administration, D2L and Housing,” Rojas Fallas said.
Along with promoting attendance at athletic functions, the committee would like to expand undergraduate research and internship opportunities to students.
The next step for the committee is to meet with Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sona Andrews. From there, the committee will have a better idea of which goals to focus on first.
“We want to improve the academic experience by working with administration,” Humphry said.
Rojas Fallas emphasized that “students are at the center” of all of the Academic Affairs Committee’s goals as “students are what makes this institution function.” He continued, “all students are invited to give their input to the Academic Affairs Committee and to participate in making these goals come to life.”