University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg appointed Student Association President Phil Robinson to a committee investigating alternative academic calendars, including a trimester system, last week. The move comes in response to the SA’s petition for more student representation on the advisory committee, which previously included only one student.
The exploratory committee, called the “Alternative Academic Calendar Committee,” will evaluate the impact of Trachtenberg’s proposed trimester system on GW students, faculty and staff.
Robinson was appointed “ex officio,” meaning he can sit in on meetings and express his concerns but cannot vote in the final determination process. Senior Amanda Mintzer has been sitting on the committee, comprised of faculty, staff and administrators, since it was initiated earlier this month.
“I appreciate President Trachtenberg making me a member of the committee,” Robinson said. “(Mintzer) is doing an excellent job, and I hope to be able to give the committee a lot of input myself.”
Robinson said he approached Trachtenberg about the lack of student influence on the trimester committee after students expressed their concerns about the system to the SA.
“I don’t think a lot of students know what to think (about trimesters),” Robinson said. “Many are a little hesitant. But right now I just want to learn as much as possible (about the proposals).”
Trachtenberg said that while Robinson is entering the process late, he can still have an influence on the findings of the committee.
“He’s joining too late (to know everything that is going on),” Trachtenberg said. “It’s not fair to add someone to the group who doesn’t have all the background. A lot of work has already been done. But it does allow him to be part of the discussion.”
Donald Lehman, executive vice president for Academic Affairs, said earlier this month that he and Trachtenberg decided one student representative would be “sufficient.”
While Robinson’s role on the committee is not as significant as Mitzner’s, students expressed satisfaction with the increased influence in the committee hearings.
“I think he’s a great addition,” said SA senator Adam Greenman (U-CCAS), who is also a candidate for SA president. “It gives us a second student voice on the committee.”
Greenman further noted that many students do not like the idea of a trimester system, which would potentially require all students to attend at least one summer session.
Trachtenberg proposed switching the academic calendar to a trimester system, meaning students would attend two of three academic periods in a year, in December to make better use of GW resources.
The committee will continue to meet throughout the semester and submit a full report of its findings to the administration May 1.
-Rachel Gould contributed to this report.