UW News

April 22, 2004

All about students: Council deals with issues from TAs to athletes and concerned neighbors

Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of articles by the chairs of Faculty Senate Councils and Committees. Clark Pace and Jeffrey Schwartz are co-chairs of the Faculty Council on Student Affairs.

As described in the University Handbook, “The Faculty Council on Student Affairs shall be responsible for all matters of policy relating to non-academic student affairs such as financial aid, housing, and regulation of social affairs, eligibility rules, intercollegiate athletics, and general student welfare.” This is a huge mandate and not surprisingly, we never struggle trying to find issues to discuss. Our work is in finding appropriate methods to solve problems. One aspect of the FCSA that makes us somewhat unique is that issues are often brought to our council by students. We start meetings with reports from one or more student representatives on the FCSA.

Our work this past year focused on three issues that provide a good example of how the FCSA works. The first issue we addressed in our council this year concerned teaching assistants. Early in the Academic year, the ASUW representative to the FCSA, raised questions concerning TA policy and TA oversight. As TAs do a lot of the teaching in some programs, having quality TAs is important.

In response, Elizabeth Feetham, acting dean of the Graduate School, and Donald Wulff, graduate school assistant dean and director of the Center for Instructional Development and Research (CIDR) presented an overview of issues facing TA training and oversight. A key and important ongoing goal of CIDR is to inform students, TA’s, and faculty members of their responsibilities and where they can get help concerning TA issues. The FCSA discussion provided an opportunity for students and CIDR to better understand each of their roles and responsibilities.

The relationship between UW and its neighbors is often difficult. Issues concerning University expansion, late-night noise and trash from student parties, vandalism and crime periodically make headlines. Recently, members of the Legislature considered a bill that would require UW to adopt an off-campus code of conduct. This issue was brought to the FCSA by both the student representatives to the council and the Faculty Legislative Representative.

In discussing its merits and the potential problems with such a policy, the FCSA has decided to initiate and help moderate conversations between the University constituents and their neighbors living off campus. Our goal is to improve relationships between the UW and its neighbors.

Finally, over the last 2 years we have had ongoing discussions concerning the welfare of student athletes. The problems of intercollegiate athletics in the U.S. are no secret, and unfortunately, UW has had its share of problems as well as successes. As intercollegiate athletics is part of the FCSA mandate, we have been working to develop appropriate methods to address issues that affect our student athletes.

To that end, and in close collaboration with the chair and vice chair of the Faculty Senate, the Advisory Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics, and the director of Student Athlete Academic Services, we have begun a fact-finding effort to both identify the problem areas and those areas of success at UW that contribute to the personal development of athletes and enhance college life on campus and off.

A diversity of issues and solutions characterize the work of the FCSA. Our goal, like all the other Faculty Councils, is to contribute to creating the best environment for academic and social development in the Northwest.