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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Eagle

Survey shows little student involvement in Honors changes

A recent survey completed by Abby Fennewald, a senior in SOC who is enrolled in the Honors Program, suggests that honors students did not have much say in the changes to the program.

The survey, to which 353 undergraduate and 62 alumni honor students at AU responded, also found that students did not know the effects of the program changes and are happy with the current program.

Fennewald created the survey because she felt honors students had no input on the changes.

“I think it speaks to the larger issue of transparency at AU as a whole,” she said.

Of the students taking the survey, 57 percent did not know anything about the changes and 83.7 percent said they did not participate in changes to the program. Only 276 people out of the 415 survey-takers answered both of these questions.

Bryan Fantie, a psychology and honors professor on the Faculty Senate, said faculty members think students did not have much say in the changes, nor were they informed about them. Fantie said many members of the Faculty Senate were unsure of what they approved.

“People are feeling disenfranchised and left out,” he said. “Nobody is against the principle of the changes, but we don’t really know what is happening, and things are moving too fast.”

The Faculty Senate discussed what they had approved for the new Honors Program at a meeting in early April.

“The only thing that was clear was that nothing was clear,” Fantie said.

The new Honors Program was approved by the Faculty Senate in February 2013 and will be implemented in the fall of 2014, Interim Director of the Honors Program Michael Manson said.

Faculty Senate Chair Barlow Burke did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The number of freshmen admitted to the new program will decrease from 200 to between 45 and 90 students per year. Fennewald believes this decrease could affect the amount of perspective students that choose to attend AU.

“Our survey showed that being accepted to the Honors Program was a strong factor in students choosing to go to AU,” Fennewald said. “If we make the Honors Program smaller, students will choose other schools.”

More than 84 percent of students and alumni surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that participation in the Honors Program was a factor in their decision to go to AU, according to the survey results.

“Our ideal would be that they would reconsider all of these changes,” Fennewald said. “The plan in the coming weeks is to talk to department chairs about our findings. We want to make sure that they know there is another side and that they should not just accept these changes.”

Manson said that the results of the survey were accurate but skewed toward freshmen and students in the College of Arts and Sciences and School of International Service. According to Fennewald’s findings, the majority of students who participated in the survey are enrolled in those schools.

Manson also said that students have had numerous opportunities for input regarding the changes.

Honors town halls were also held as a platform for the changes to be discussed by students, according to Manson, who said he wondered what other options are needed to ensure student input.

The task force that was created in 2011 to look into the Honors Program had two student members, a junior and a senior, he said.

“What more action does [Fennewald] want?” Manson said.

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