Name: Radhika Duggal
Relevant Experience: I have served as a Freshman Representative, College of Arts and Sciences Representative and am currently the Secretary of the Assembly. Within these positions, I’ve been on the Academic Affairs Committee for the past two years and the Executive Committee for the last year.
Running for: Vice President of Academic Affairs
What are your specific plans for the position?
The most important facet of my platform is the idea of “following through.” As someone who has served on the Academic Affairs Committee for the past two years, I want to ensure that the progress I have seen does not slip through the cracks during transitions into next year. In this vein, as Vice President I plan to follow up on the progress we have made, such as the Provost’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience (CUE) recommendation, and continue to voice the undergraduate voice in the implementation of the six recommendations.
Further, I plan to develop a strong relationship with the new provost, Ben Vinson III. I believe that with a new provost, there is great opportunity for new changes to be seen and considered on campus. Additionally, I intend to provide feedback from the undergraduate perspective on the Student Success Leadership Program he will implement to help make it most effective for students.
Finally, I would like to continue to seek involvement and work with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) Public Relations Committee to publicize forums through which students can voice their own opinions. For example, this past fall usability and feedback sessions regarding the upcoming upgrade to SIS were open to the student body. However, the number of students who were aware of this opportunity and attended was very limited. I hope to go beyond attending these events myself and encourage other representatives and undergraduates as a whole to attend as well!
What is one initiative that you want to complete in your first semester?
The cost of attendance at Case Western Reserve University is a huge barrier for students and the rising price of textbooks does not help at all. During my first semester as vice president of Academic Affairs, I’d like to see the completion of an initiative I have been working on in committee—an online textbook marketplace. Similar to the existing “Free and For Sale” page on Facebook, this marketplace would allow students to buy or sell textbooks from or to their peers for prices cheaper than the bookstore. However, unlike the “Free and For Sale” page, this marketplace would be easier to navigate, more accessible to students (e.g. incoming first-years and students without a Facebook), and potentially support CaseCash. Having spoken to various administrators regarding this, it is very feasible and will likely be live next academic year!
How will you make sure the implementation of the Commission on Undergraduate Experience responds to student needs?
One of the biggest things I can do is repeatedly and effectively push for what undergraduate students would like to see. I believe that “effectively” conveying the undergraduate voice has two major components. The first is that I will voice our voice frequently, repeating the key aspects as many times as it takes. The second is that I will continuously gather data to back my claims regarding the undergraduate needs. I think this data should be collected not only through USG’s Feedback Friday events, but also by reaching out to students and student groups on campus and hearing their opinions on how to best implement the new changes.
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 believe there is an acute difference between the undergraduate voice being heard and being listened to. While student concerns are definitely being heard, I think that they are not always listened to. Even though there is a forum for the undergraduates voice to be heard, they are not always taken into account to the extent that they should be. I think that using the methods I outlined earlier, I can work towards student concerns being taken more seriously.
How will you ensure transparent use of the need-aware admissions policy change?
For some background, in the fall of 2016, the university adopted a partially need aware admissions policy, which was implemented in the fall of 2017, with the goal of meeting the full need of all CWRU applicants. With this, there was concern regarding the potential for this policy to hurt, rather than help, the diversity at CWRU. Through the policy, it is likely that a greater number of high-income students would be admitted to offset the cost of supporting more low-income students. As a result, the middle-income students, especially the lower middle-income students, are potentially marginalized as they cannot afford to attend the university but are also not eligible for support.
In response to this policy change, in the fall of 2016, USG passed General Assembly Resolution R. 26-01 which calls for the university to assess the results of the new admissions policy following the matriculation of the class of 2022 (Fall 2018). Following up on this policy change and asking that the administration releases statistics regarding the income of families beyond the number of Pell Grant recipients will be vital in ensuring that the implementation of this new policy is transparent and not detrimental to the socioeconomic diversity of the undergraduate population. As Vice President, I will continue to push for this transparency and ensure that students are present and involved in the discussions regarding the outcomes of the policy change.
How will you work with faculty and the administration to increase support for non-STEM programs?
Out of class, experiential learning is a key factor of undergraduate education that is already available to many students on campus. For pre-meds, there are opportunities at Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. For engineering students, there are many opportunities for co-ops and several companies seeking undergraduates at the Career Fair. However, for non-STEM majors the options are rather limited. To improve this situation, some of my first steps will be to work to increase non-STEM representation at the Career Fair and to look into working with the nearby institutions to make opportunities for students more known.