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Student Senate expresses concerns about student advising

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Dr. Elizabeth Sayrs speaks to Ohio University's Student Senate. Photo by Ryan Haroff.

During a presentation by Dr. Elizabeth Sayrs, discussion broke out about problems with how Ohio U handles academic advising.

Members of Ohio University’s Student Senate voiced concern Wednesday night about academic advising standards during a presentation from an administrator.

Dr. Elizabeth Sayrs, interim executive vice president and provost, gave a presentation which included a description of a new program called Kudos, which was designed to make it easier for students to contact their academic advisors. Senator Amal Ayfouni raised issues with academic advising in general at Ohio U.

“I have had a different advisor every single year since I’ve been here, so I have never had a consistent advisor,” Ayfouni said. “The advisor I have didn’t know that I am not graduating this year, so it’s been kind of annoying out the gate. I just want to know: how is this going to ensure that students are actually getting advisor engagement?”

Sayrs said that the Kudos program is new and still being rolled out. According to Sayrs, inconsistencies in advising between colleges at Ohio U have complicated the process.

“Think of what college you’re in, you have a different model of advising than others,” Sayrs said. “Some colleges have professional advisors who are already trained and already using it. Others have faculty who have different levels of comfort with using this type of software.”

Other senators spoke to their own advising experiences. Student senate president Landen Lama asked Sayrs about the administration’s internal discussion on the issue.

“Has there been any conversation about maybe looking at a more centralized advising program?” Lama said.

In a response, Sayrs said that Ohio U is a decentralized university by design.

“I honestly don’t think that complete centralization is a good thing, because as you move into professions it’s really important that you have disciplinary advising from professors who are in the field,” Sayrs said.

Ayfouni then asked about how the administration planned to oversee academic advising since there would not be a centralized advising system.

“Is there any plan to go to individual departments and just see what is up with their advising?” Ayfouni said.

Sayrs said that the administration was looking at a proposed project regarding an assessment of academic advising on campus. According to Sayrs, the university is deciding whether or not that project would be possible.

“One of the proposals for that project has been an assessment of advising, and right now we’re trying to see if that’s even a feasible project or whether we should focus on particular colleges or areas,” Sayrs said.

Some colleges have taken independent steps to improve academic advising for students. The College of Arts and Sciences and the Scripps College of Communications have both introduced student evaluations for advisors to see how students feel after meetings with their advisors.

Ayfouni spoke further about her problems with academic advising specifically in the college of political science in an interview after the student senate meeting.

“My issue with advising is, rather than spending money on things like Kudos, I would rather see the university spend money training professors who happen to be advisors,” Ayfouni said. “The College of Business has professional advisors, why doesn’t the College of Arts and Sciences get professional advisors since it’s the biggest college? That’s my issue with advising here, because it’s (sic) affected me.”

In addition to the discussion on university advisors, senate passed multiple resolutions regarding internal committees. It also passed a bill suggesting that the university provide more resources for students with autism spectrum disorders and their professors.

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