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Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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SA officials, administrators reach stalemate in Thursday meeting on academic calendar

SA officials sought changes; administrators sought to review the decision-making process

UB continues to refuse to implement wellness days following a Tuesday meeting between the SA e-board and administrators.
UB continues to refuse to implement wellness days following a Tuesday meeting between the SA e-board and administrators.

The Student Association e-board and assembly speaker met with university administrators last Thursday to discuss the academic calendar and the potential addition of wellness days, as permitted — but not required — under SUNY guidelines

It was the third such meeting between SA officials and administrators, according to UB spokesperson John DellaContrada. 

The two sides appear to have reached a stalemate. 

“Our meeting with the administration did not produce many results,” SA President Nelaje Branch wrote in an email. “There were numerous times where the administration tried to make it seem like their hands were tied when in actuality, changes can be made. We addressed the alternatives that the administration could’ve taken in creating the academic calendar, as well as the fact that they should and can include wellness days in the remainder of the year (as numerous other SUNYs have)... They were apologetic but not planning to make any changes.”

The SA e-board and assembly speaker argued that students would perform better with days off, which have been implemented at other SUNYs and could be feasible despite concerns about their impact on the spring and summer semester calendars. Administrators argued that developing a new calendar that meets state, federal and SUNY guidelines without affecting financial aid and accreditation requirements was simply too much to ask for. Instead, they said, accommodations made by individual department chairs and faculty members, including open-book exams, extended deadlines, extra credit opportunities, slower class paces and grade drops, have made up for the lack of a break. 

“We understand that students are unhappy with some of the realities and challenges of the spring semester,” DellaContrada said. “It is important to know that many deans, faculty members and department chairs have been responding to students’ needs.”

The deadlock stemmed from the two parties’ wildly different notions of the hour-long meeting’s purpose. 

While the SA Assembly’s March resolution, A2021-R4, called on the SA Executive Board and administration “to meet with the relevant administrators in order to resolve the issue,” administrators saw the meeting as an opportunity “to explain how the current calendar was created, and to review the processes by which the decision not to hold wellness days came about,” according to DellaContrada.

“It was made clear that the purpose of this particular meeting was not to discuss options for changing the academic calendar,” DellaContrada said. “The group [of administrators] emphasized that there were no ideal scenarios, and that decision making was guided by maintaining the health and safety of all campus members while providing the highest quality education for students.”

The Faculty Senate, though, is discussing adding student wellness days to the academic calendar. The Academic Policies and Grading Committee met with SA Assembly Speaker Austin Wolfgang Tuesday in a closed-door forum to discuss A2021-R4.

The committee will present their “findings and updates” to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee Wednesday afternoon. The Executive Committee has the power to advance calendar changes to the full Faculty Senate for a vote; President Satish Tripathi would then have to promulgate such changes. 

The Executive Committee passed the original breakless calendar in October. 

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Branch says she plans to attend the Executive Committee’s Wednesday meeting and “continue fighting for students.”

Grant Ashley is an assistant features editor and can be reached at grant.ashley@ubspectrum.com 


GRANT ASHLEY

Grant Ashley is an assistant features editor for The Spectrum.  He is a political science major and a (mediocre) Spanish minor.  He enjoys taking long bike rides and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon. 

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