Darien Kim / Sun Staff Photographer

February 26, 2016

Cornell Student Assembly Discusses Sustainability, Course Enrollment and Online Forum

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The Student Assembly addressed environmental sustainability, the transparency of course enrollment and “Big Red Change” — an online forum for students to create petitions about different University initiatives — at its meeting Thursday.

The S.A. passed a resolution to convert all lighting in Willard Straight Memorial Hall from incandescent to LED. This change is an easy step that will save the University both money and energy, according to Gabriel Kaufman ’18.

“We are actually sitting under about 300 incandescent light bulbs. What that means is that we are wasting a lot of electricity,” Kaufman said. “We talk a lot about carbon neutrality. We talk a lot about becoming more sustainable, and I think it is time we put our money where our mouth is.”

The University is about one third of the way through the process of switching from incandescent to LED lights, according to Mark Howe, director of campus energy.

The S.A. also passed a resolution to promote increased academic transparency during the course enrollment process. The change will give students access to course syllabi during open enrollment.

The resolution will also allow professors to post syllabi on an opt-in basis, allowing students to access both a course description and syllabus before pre-enroll, according to Kaufman.

“Professors who aren’t uploading their syllabi online won’t have students enroll in their courses as much,” Kaufman said. “With the economic structure of our university, colleges and administrations are actually paid per student that enrolls in the course, so the financial structure for colleges here is definitely to get syllabi out there.”

Shea Belsky ’18 also gave an update on “Big Red Change,” saying that the online forum should be fully operational by the end of the semester. The website will allow students to sign petitions for various causes, according to Belsky.

Belsky added that S.A. members will be able to add responses from Cornell’s administration, where applicable, in order to ensure that issues are seen and are addressed by the appropriate people.

“My personal motivation to see this project through was getting the ability to facilitate an open forum for important topics, events, and discussions that speak for Cornell students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” Belsky said.