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FSU should consider athletes' academic agreement for execs

Diana Forbes | Interrobang | News | January 23rd, 2006

It's only a couple of weeks into the winter semester and Fanshawe Student Union's has lost over a quarter of their elected officials, which may have some questioning their lack of academic accountability.

Under current FSU by-laws the only academic check the organization can do on their officials is obtain marks at the end of each semester.

By that time it may be too late.

FSU by-law 1.28.6 and 1.29.3 states that a VP or SAC member must “maintain passing grades in four credit courses per semester.”

Under official Fanshawe College regulations, a student is placed under conditional continuation if they are failing one class or receiving marks under a 1.99 GPA (under 63 per cent). Students are placed on academic probation if they fall below 1.75 GPA (under 60 per cent) in one or more classes or if they receive more than one failure. In a worst-case scenario, students may find themselves re-applying to their program if they continuously receive low marks and failures.

The FSU, an independent entity affiliated with the college, does not follow these guidelines and instead defines academic success as “passing”, giving no other explanation or warning system for councillors who are getting poor grades.

Fanshawe's Athletic department was facing the same problem just a few years ago when some athletes were suspended from playing due to unsatisfactory marks.

Implemented during the fall of 2003, the Student Athlete Success Plan was designed to catch the warning signs of low academic standing and combat the number of athletes given conditional continuations, probations and re-applications.

Mike Lindsay, Manager of Athletics, said although the plan took time to get used to and organize, the students involved in athletics are coming out on top.

“We've reduced our numbers of students suspended from our program,” said Lindsay, who has been impressed with the overall improvement of his athletes' grades since the success plan began over two years ago.

The Student Athlete Success Plan not only requires athletes to obtain permission from their professors to miss class, it also requires students to hand in monthly progress reports and supplies peer-tutoring, as well as academic counseling.

“This is not designed for students who are weak,” explained Lindsay. “We want to make ‘C' students [into]‘B' students, and ‘B' students [into]‘A' students. We want to improve their academic standing- to win awards.”

“It's all about accountability,” explained Lindsay. “Our goal is to get them out and graduated.”

Lindsay said that at the beginning of each semester athletes are required to participate in a seminar outlining the importance of abiding by the plan.

“It's like a fitness club membership…you start to wean off as time goes on,” Lindsay said about reminding students of their commitment to the forms and regulations. “We have to push the students all the time… to buy into their responsiblities.”

FSU president Melissa Smart agrees that the Student Union needs a student success plan similar to the one the Athletics Department has developed, but due to regulations, the council can not implement new by-laws until the last SAC meeting of the year.

“We will be implementing a progress report,” said Smart about the change coming to the FSU at the end of the year.
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