SGA Hosts COAS, COE Forums

Samantha Stirmel/The Avion Newspaper
A student writes a suggestion for the College of Engineering Forum as Student Representative Faith Torcuator looks on. The SGA reviewed and offered prizes for the best student suggestions for improvements to campus life.

Samantha Stirmel/Staff Reporter

COE Student Forum

This semester’s College of Engineering Forum was a trip to Hawaii! Students walking into the Lehman building were greeted by getting ’lei-ed’ to keep with the theme. The atrium was also decked out in Hawaiian décor and games like limbo and a bean bag toss were provided by the Student Government Association’s Representative Board for students to play.

Representatives from the College of Engineering were in attendance to talk with students about their classes and ask them to write suggestions on a giant notepad. The best ideas were entered into a drawing for gift cards. The event was sponsored by the Student Government Association’s Student Representatives Board, which holds semesterly forums for each college to allow students an opportunity to voice their grievances and ideas. The representatives use the information given by students to provide insights to university faculty, staff, and board of trustee members about areas that may need change for the betterment of the university and improvement of
student quality of life.

There was also an all-you-can-eat buffet provided by Sodexo with plenty of themed food like flavored meatballs, pork loin, and Hawaiian rice pilaf. For dessert, there was a pineapple upside down cake, which was a major hit and the first thing gone out of all of the food. Additionally, there was a table next to the buffet where students could try a Virtual Reality experience with various games.

Overall, the forum seemed to be a success. Students enjoyed good food with the opportunity to hang out with their friends and work to make the college better.

COAS Student Forum

The the College of Arts and Sciences Forum as well as the meal afterward was very smooth and well put together. Students arrived and walked directly into one of the classrooms where they were greeted by a panel that included the COAS Dean, Karen Gains. The COAS forum was designed to discuss various topics around the college and the effectiveness of the classes in addition to making sure students are on the same page about different issues.

One of the first items talked about was Humanities classes. There was a discussion between the panel and several students that were irritated by the lack of diversity in Humanities classes and questioned why they were necessary. Dean Gains explained that Humanities classes are required by the college for accreditation purposes regardless of whether or not a student is studying a major that involves the Humanities. The discussion also mentioned that some students were frustrated with their Humanities classes because the classes seemed more lecture-based than discussion-based. This seemed to worry Dean Gains, as she explained that all Humanities classes are meant to be more discussion than anything else. She vowed that she would look into the courses closer and ensure that they are
taught as intended.

Another focus was on language classes offered at Embry-Riddle. Currently, some of the courses offered are taught through “telepresence” with Daytona State College, meaning that because the university does not have the faculty in-house to teach the languages, they Skype-in on classes with another institution. The desire for having more foreign language classes offered increases every year, and the dean talked about trying to create more programs, including Russian and Chinese, which will allow students to take them as a minor.

While on the topic of adding more programs, music was brought up. Much of the population in the room raised their hands when asked if they have done anything with music and maybe would like to continue to pursue music. Dean Gains seemed pleased with the response and talked about in the future possibility of opening more music-centered classes and having practice rooms on campus to facilitate the study of music.

Diversity was also a big player in the discussions during the forum and ranged from having more African-American teachers on campus to trying to increase the female population. However, many students in the room seemed to argue that this university is incredibly diverse in the student population and that the classes are catering to the students. Increasing the female population on campus was talked about earlier by offering more courses and programs that are typically dominated by women.

The dean informed students in the room that she and her staff have been trying to look for a more diverse set of teachers to be on campus, but the process takes a long time to seek those individuals out. The dean was happy to inform that two of the newest faculty hires for the 2017 Fall Semester were African-Americans, proving that the efforts are there and that students should be expecting more diverse university in the future.

Two students in response to the topic pitched the idea of having culture classes available from the college so that more students could understand the cultures that they see represented on campus every day.

The newest entrance testing system, ALEKS, was also brought up and many of the freshmen in the room who had to use it voiced displeasure over the system and the way the test reacted. ALEKS is an online entrance test that allows you to take it more than once to get placed into a specific math class. All freshmen were required to take prior to entering classes this year, and many possed complaints explaining that they believe they were wrongly placed. One student in particular spoke up and said what many other freshmen have this year: the students in the room believed they were wrongly placed in a remedial math course because they had taken calculus or another higher-level math class before becoming a student at Embry-Riddle.

Dean Gains explained that they had turned to ALEKS with the intention that students would attempt the tests more than once to amplify the chance of placement in a higher-level class. But, as said, the ALEKS only tested rudimentary skills that some of the higher-level classes do not require for a base, especially the math classes engineers are required to take.

Finally, the conversation turned towards tutoring and the students’ struggle with finding tutors for their specific topics in times when they need them most. The COAS hires tutors in their lab but they are hired specifically to tutor for anything under 200-level classes. This creates a problem with many engineering students on campus who enter higher level classes and still expect to be tutored by the COAS. Sometimes there will be a tutor in attendance that knows about more than what they were hired for and can tutor students in that extra subject area, but it is not consistent. Dean Gains informed the students in attendance that the COAS isn’t meant for engineering students to constantly come in and get tutored because the College of Engineering has its own tutors that are supposed to take care of their specific needs.

Dean Gains was very considerate of everything that was said by all the students at the forum and gladly listened to all of the new ideas coming in. Hopefully, these ideas will manifest into real changes and the COAS will evolve with the rest of the university.