MSA considers study day resolution

By adding two weekday study days, students get a break and the University gets to see students’ greatest potentials.

>The summer of 2004 marked the beginning of the University’s strategic positioning to become one of the top three public research universities. At the time, this idea of transformation seemed very abstract. The idea of using task forces and steering committees to rearrange the University’s image and capability was completely new.

Now, almost three years later, that decision has impacted countless students, teachers and employees. The idea is now much more tangible with the elimination of colleges and positions and the additions of new task forces and goals. While most of these goals are admirable and try to ensure the University’s historical place in academia, many of these decisions are made by University officials, not the people they directly affect: the students.

As the only student on a steering committee chaired by Provost Thomas Sullivan, I have seen first-hand how students can be involved in this process. And while I was lucky enough to have that chance, only a certain number of spots are open for students, especially undergraduates.

As the University continues its transformation toward being a top-three public research university, it’s important to realize how small steps in the right direction can help affect the entire outcome. Although a prestigious institution should be rigorous, there are small changes that the University of Minnesota administration could make to help students cope with the pressures of attending a competitive university. A primary example of one of these small changes is inserting two weekday study days before finals into the academic calendar.

Over the past five years, University tuition has increased drastically, making it almost essential for students to find part-time jobs to pay for the rising costs. Taking on part-time employment steals away needed study time and causes students more stress. In addition, many students are highly involved in athletics, on-campus clubs or even volunteering – trying to round out a résumé so the competitive job hunt can be a little easier. All of these activities can really eat away a student’s time and drive.

And, let’s not forget how important time is during finals – when jamming regular work hours, extracurricular activities and final exams, worth sometimes more than 50 percent of the class grade, can really take a toll on already stressed-out students.

As the University strives for excellence and each incoming freshmen class’ scores increase, exams are going to become more difficult than ever. This added two-day break would create the needed ingredient to allow students to do their very best. This measure can truly help students cope with the added stress of finals and reach their full potential – to show their true ability and why the University decided to admit them in the first place.

Rarely can a measure so simple reach such a breadth of students. Adding two weekday study days will help students in all degrees: from political science to mortuary science, from physiology to psychology.

Furthermore, using study days is not uncommon. The Universities of Michigan, North Carolina and Texas all have at least two study days. Incredibly, Notre Dame finds this extra practice so important the administration gives the students an extra four days.

If this measure is successful in getting the attention of the administration, it would show the University community that student opinions are truly valued and not swept under the carpet when important decisions are made.

This measure could even be an example of how students can get involved in University happenings and actually accomplish something worthwhile and palpable. It might even inspire students to get engaged in other ways as well. In addition, since the Minnesota Student Association will be considering a resolution on this measure today, this involves students in decision making at a basic level.

Currently, the University calendar includes one study day, which usually falls on a Saturday or Sunday, making it irrelevant. By simply adding two weekday study days, students get a break and the University gets the most potential out of their students, losing nothing.

Emma Olson is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]