Of Senate and schedules

By The Beacon | April 6, 2011 9:00pm

ASUP vice president-elect juggles conflict between required class and weekly Senate meetings

(Bryan Brenize -- The Beacon)

By Elizabeth Vogel, Staff Writer -- vogel11@up.edu

Registration is stressful for everyone, but scheduling has been especially stressful for Vice President-elect junior Chloe' Ruffin.

Ruffin is an education major, and all seniors in the School of Education are required to take a seminar course in the spring semester. There are four sections of this course, but they are all held on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. This class is held at the same time as the weekly Senate meetings are held, which the vice president is in charge of running.

Ruffin said she did not know about this conflict when she decided to run for ASUP vice president.

"I wouldn't have spent a month campaigning without making sure this was resolved first," she said.

She informed the Director of Student Activities Jeromy Koffler the week after spring break.

"My first recommendation was to see if she could talk to her academic adviser," Koffler said.

Ruffin worked with the School of Education to take the seminar class as an independent study.

"Very graciously, the School of Education is doing all it can to make sure I can receive the best education and serve in this leadership position," she said.

Had she not been able to change her class schedule, Ruffin may have had to resign from her position second semester, according to Koffler. He said ASUP officers have had to resign in the past due to illness or early graduation, but never because of a class conflict.

"It put a hardship on the group, some of them ended up doing multiple roles," Koffler said.

Ruffin is not the first ASUP executive board member who has faced scheduling conflicts. Current President Colin Dorwart changed his major from organizational communications to communication studies in order to attend all Senate meetings.

A class required for his organizational communications major was scheduled during the Senate meetings. Dorwart, like Ruffin, met with his adviser to work something out. They were able to compromise, but Dorwart still faced problems.

"I would have been late, 45 minutes late, and that's just not acceptable," Dorwart said. "If I started showing up late, then what would that look like to the Senate?"

Instead, Dorwart changed his major to communication studies, which does not require the conflicting class.

"We've looked for how we personally can change rather than have ASUP change for us," Vice President Katie Scally said. "ASUP matters more than the individuals in it. It will outlast any individuals here on campus."

Although Ruffin has worked out a compromise, she said she may have to miss some Senate meetings in order to meet one-on-one with professors as part of her independent study.

"I'm reviewing the constitution to see how many times I can miss," she said.

Scally was concerned when she first heard about Ruffin's conflict because she knows how busy people majoring in education are.

"You very much need to be present and when you are in field experience from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offices close at 4 p.m., when are you going to have meetings?" Scally said.

Before the election, when Ruffin was asked about balancing school and her ASUP position during speech night on Feb. 15, she did not mention any potential problems.

"It's important for people in ASUP to be up front with students," Scally said. "Being vice president, you talk with clubs and students so trust is a big part of this role."

Ruffin is confident in her ability to perform well as a student and also fulfill her role of vice president

"I think I've always been extremely busy," she said. "Doing a lot is what I'm great at."

She is also determined not to resign spring semester.

"The School of Education and the Senate will both have to bend until we work this out," she said.

Scally agrees it is in everyone's best interest to have one vice president who can serve both semesters.

"There is a lot to learn personally (about being vice president) and if there are two vice presidents, that will have to happen twice," she said. "It would be really disruptive."

Ruffin and Dorwart's scheduling conflicts are not the first time required classes have gotten in the way of ASUP duties.

"Over time it has become more and more of a conflict because we have more students and more classes," Koffler said.

Ruffin looked into changing the time of the Senate meetings, but it was not feasible.

"I know Chloe' was interested in changing the Senate time, but that's really difficult to do because so many other people are involved," Scally said.

According to Koffler, the time of the Senate meetings has been the same for at least 18 years. It is consistent so students always know when it will be and to enable guest speakers to attend. Koffler is aware that the meeting time does not fit into every student's schedule.

"There is never going to be a time when it's going to be convenient for everyone because we haven't set aside time for student government," he said.

This is an issue that concerns Ruffin.

"One of my main focuses is going to be working with deans and the Provost to set aside a chunk of time with no core or required classes so any student can be involved," she said.

(Bryan Brenize -- The Beacon)