ECS advises against fall break, discusses empty committee seats

Joy Washburn with Ricardo L. Benavidez, commenting on Student Senate Report.

Laine Girard

Joy Washburn with Ricardo L. Benavidez, commenting on Student Senate Report.

Claire Fodell

Grand Valley State University’s Executive Committee of the Senate discussed a range of issues—
from a new fall break to empty faculty-committee seats reserved for students—at its meeting Sept.

“It is our job to screen issues that are ready for the whole senate,” said chair of the ECS Karen
Gipson said of the role of the committee.

Though nothing was officially decided at the meeting, there was a lot of discussion about the
issues and few were moved to the University Academic Senate schedule for further discussion.


The first major item the ECS discussed was the possibility of a fall break for GVSU.

Student Senate recently passed a resolution to the Academic Policies and Standards Committee
proposing that a fall break would benefit students by enhancing their ability to retain information.

After much discussion and study of peer institutions in the state, the APSC—which makes
recommendations to the senate regarding academic policies and procedures on campus—decided
that a fall break wouldn’t be possible because it would be too hard to make up the time. GVSU
would either have to begin sooner in the fall or add an extra day in the summer. Another idea
brought up was taking away the Tuesday after Labor Day to make up for it.

Although the APSC doesn’t support the proposition, Student Senate President Ricardo Benavidez
said the students still stand by their resolution.

“Not all of our peer institutions have a fall break, but we believe that it would be better for us to
have a fall break,” Benavidez said. “We don’t always follow what our peer institutions do.”

When deciding which issues will be heard by the UAS, the ECS and other committees will sometimes
send a proposition to the UAS with a recommendation that it be passed or that an issue requires
further discussion. The resolution for a fall break will be sent to the UAS and will include the
recommendation from the APSC stating that it wouldn’t be in the best interest of students to pass
the resolution.

Although there was some opposition to the Student Senate’s proposition, Benavidez remains
positive about future reviews of resolutions.

“It’s important to increase student voice,” he said. “Sending resolutions to committees and hearing
back from them is the best way.”


The ECS also brought to the table a proposal to add extra student seats to four of the faculty
governance committees, including APSC, the Faculty Facilities Planning Advisory Committee, the
Faculty Teaching and Learning Center Advisory Committee and the University Assessment
Committee. Though all of these committees currently have a student seat on them, many are
vacant, or according to Kyle Felker from the FTLCAC, they’re filled but are not being used.

The student seats on these committees can be occupied by any student who is nominated by a
student organization and approved by the Student Senate. There are also four seats on the ECS for
Student Senate members that are vacant. Student Senate is pushing for the additional student seats
so that there is more student representation on these committees that make decisions directly
impacting students.

Also in the proposal is a preference for these seats to be given to students from the Graduate
Student Association. Although the graduate student population is 15 percent of GVSU’s student
body, no members currently hold any seats on Student Senate.

Since the population of the Student Senate is undergraduate, the decisions and actions it takes can
be more undergraduate-centered. Giving preference to students from the GSA would give graduate
students more of a voice in the governing sectors of GVSU.

Because there was not enough voice from the committees who would be adding these chairs, the
issue was sent back to the separate committees for further review, rather than being passed to the
UAS agenda.

If the committees agree to add the student seats, the movement will be put on the UAS schedule
with the recommendation of further discussion.

[email protected]