Caroline Gray


Caroline Gray (VP of Academic Affairs)

Name: Caroline Gray

Year: Sophomore

Major: Biology

Running for: VP of Academic Affairs

What are your plans for the position?
I hope to focus on increasing student commitment to an education that prioritizes diversity, fostering more effective communication between administrators and the student body, including more student opinions in CWRU academics, and encouraging representatives to continue their fantastic work on initiatives like resources for undeclared students, peer mentoring programs and academic advising. Through Academic Affairs, I hope to reach out to members of the campus community to encourage them to become USG members-at-large in order to further increase the diversity of our committee. Having diverse opinions at the table will allow more underrepresented voices on our campus to be part of the discussion and help the committee more thoroughly explore all of the ramifications of the academic issues we consider.

What projects are you hoping to pursue should you get the position that would directly affect the student body in the next year?
This is more outlined in my letter of intent, but in short form:

  • Increase student commitment to an education that prioritizes diversity and inclusion
  • Encourage more students, and specifically more underrepresented voices, to join us in the conversation of CWRU academics
  • Continue to work on Need-Aware alternative solutions -Finish creating a Bioethics minor on campus
  • Continue working on Academic Advising
  • Work with administrators to make their communication of academic deadlines more clear and concise.

SAGES is often a topic of debate among the student body, and is currently under review by a committee led by the provost. What, if anything, would you like to see happen with the program?
I personally think that the biggest problem with SAGES is the advising system that is attached to it. I think that SAGES was the only class every first-year student took, so the University decided to attach advising onto English classes out of convenience, but I don’t think it has been successful. In terms of PCUE, (the Provost’s Commission on Undergraduate Experience) I think that what they decide to do with SAGES will define a lot of how CWRU views general education requirements. If they decide to completely obliterate it, that would allow for a fundamental restructuring of the first-year advising system, which I think would be beneficial. Regardless of what they do with the program as a whole, I think first-year SAGES instructors need a lot more support in advising. They have whole classes of students with intended majors that the professor has no experience in as a professor or a student. A program like that is not going to succeed even under the best of circumstances. USG has continued to work on that issue, but I think we need to work on suggesting some alternative advising methods, which could be incorporated into either current or future programs, whether or not the program as a whole persists. On the other hand, I think that though there are a wide ranges of SAGES classes in terms of quality, the basic principle of having themed English class is not a terrible idea. CWRU doesn’t historically always do the best job of valuing non-science courses, but SAGES does alleviate that to some extent. It forces students to have experiences in three different fields of study, which for some engineers, is some of the only exposure they have outside of their majors. I am interested to see what PCUE chooses to do with that program. Our current USG VP of Academic Affairs Nishu Uppal sits on that committee, so I am confident that we will continue to get a lot of updates on their progress and provide as much student feedback as possible along the way.

Do you think that CWRU should switch to need-aware admissions?
Need-Aware will always be a very complicated, personal issue and there are always going to be CWRU students who will vehemently argue both sides. As the Vice President of Academic Affairs, as is the case with all elected USG representatives, my job would be to represent the opinion of undergraduate students on this issue to all appropriate administrators, which can be challenging when our campus is so split on an issue. The Need-Aware Open Forum, which I planned and coordinated with current USG VP of Academic Affairs Nishu Uppal and USG President Chippy Kennedy along with UDC members, was a great showing of student feedback surrounding that issue. I was proud that so many members of the CWRU community came to share their opinions directly to the University administration. The need-aware issue is particularly complicated because it basically boils down to there being more financial need than there are financial aid dollars to allocate. In our current situation, no matter what our financial aid policy is, someone is always getting the short end of the stick. The current system of us not being able to meet full demonstrated financial need for the students we enroll most disadvantages people in the lowest socioeconomic statuses. However, the alternative is that we move to a need-aware system and are able to admit less students from the middle class and offer less merit scholarships across the board. So, I think for USG this has become less of a question of: “What is the correct choice in this situation?” and more so us trying to say: “How can we shift the situation as a whole?” This semester, the Admissions Policy Commission, of which I am a member along with VP Uppal, other USG representatives, UDC representatives and other CWRU undergraduate students, has discussed many alternative solutions to a need-aware policy. From those discussions VP Uppal, President Kennedy and I wrote a diversity resolution which was just passed by the USG General Assembly asking CWRU to continue its pursuit to make the University a more welcoming environment for diversity to be cultivated and called for some action steps to make that happen. These action steps included writing a new Diversity Strategic Action Plan and making Diversity 360 training required for all members of our campus community. VP Uppal, Ren Weeden and I are now working on a resolution about student scholarship. We hope that these series of resolutions will truly encompass all of the student feedback that we received surrounding the need-aware issue. In terms of introducing need-aware as a policy, I think the most important piece is that the CWRU administration stop to consider student feedback on the issue before moving forward, whether that be in the form of their own survey, a USG referendum or an alternative form.

With the VP of Academic Affairs sitting on the Faculty Senate, how do you plan on communicating student needs to faculty and administration? Do you think that student concerns are currently being heard by the Faculty Senate?
I currently sit on the Faculty Senate Committee on Undergraduate Education (FSCUE), which includes VP of Student Affairs Lou Stark, VP of Enrollment Management Rick Bischoff, Dean of Undergraduate Studies Jeffrey Wolcowitz, Vice Provost Don Feke and representatives from all of the undergraduate colleges. I think that this experience will definitely help me in representing students’ interests to the Faculty Senate. I think that student opinion is definitely valued on FSCUE, and that it has become more valued in Faculty Senate this year. However, the Faculty Senate wants to do what is best for their constituents (aka the faculty) and that is sometimes going to be at odds with what is best for our constituents (aka the students). I think that reaching out to as many students as possible to talk to them about the issues Faculty Senate is discussing is crucial to best representing all 5,000 undergraduates that are represented by that one voice in the room. I think that the more students, and the higher diversity of opinion, we can get involved in talking about CWRU academics, the better I will be able to then represent those interests to the Faculty Senate.