The University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government recently passed two pieces of important legislation. One — the Syllabus Repository Act — allows students to view archived course syllabi for classes they are planning on taking. The other — the Mental Health Training Act — calls for mandatory mental health training for students, staff and faculty.
Both of these pieces of legislation are very important and necessary in their own ways. The Syllabus Repository Act will improve the effectiveness of course selection and the transition to a new semester for both professors and students. The Mental Health Training Act will help the UConn community gain a better understanding about how to support one another. These changes are very necessary and will prove helpful to students.
The Syllabus Repository Act will be extremely beneficial for students during class registration. Currently, when students sign up for classes, their choices are based solely on one to two sentence descriptions written in the course catalog. Many times, this is not enough to make an informed decision about a class, especially when information regarding coursework, exams and papers is not given. It is impossible to efficiently capture what exactly an entire class entails within just the course description listed in the course catalogue.
Having access to older syllabi will allow for students to take into consideration more aspects of the class, such as what topics they will be learning about, how they will be learning and how they will be tested. Students should no longer have to choose a course that they will take for about 14 weeks based on a short, not-always-accurate description written in the course catalogue.
It will also be very helpful for professors. Often, when professors start the course, they are unable to effectively plan everything due to the fact that students may not know what to expect in a class and these students plan to make changes during the add/drop period. The Syllabus Repository Act could largely decrease the class size fluctuation and allow professors to plan better from before the start of the semester, rather than 10 days into the semester.
In addition to the Syllabus Repository Act, USG also passed the Mental Health Training Act. This act will create a program similar to AlcoholEdu — a program for juniors in StudentAdmin. The program is meant for students, staff and faculty and will consist of modules that focus on mental health concerns specific to underrepresented communities; the effect of university fees, poverty and housing and food insecurity; and how COVID-19 has impacted students’ mental health and academics.
Unfortunately, UConn students are intimately familiar with mental health concerns being ignored — SHaW-MH is still underfunded and students have reported numerous difficulties when seeking mental health services. Although this is not a complete fix, having modules that make students — and especially staff and faculty — more aware of what students are facing could be beneficial. These programs may inspire professors to empathize more with students’ struggles and be a bit more accommodating, and the programs may teach faculty and staff how to better support students who are struggling. With students also participating in these modules, it will also help students learn how to better support their peers. It is not an absolute solution, but it is a good first step to fixing problems with how mental health concerns are handled on campus.
USG has passed two immensely important pieces of legislation. Both of them will work to improve student effectiveness and are beneficial for the overall UConn community.
Thumbnail file photo courtesy of the Daily Campus.