Vas Mathur / Sun Staff Photographer

Gabriel Kaufman '18 discussed proposed plans for a peer-to-peer textbook marketplace at the University Assembly meeting Tuesday.

September 7, 2016

U.A. Discusses Review of Academic Calendar, Textbook Marketplace

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In its second meeting of the year on Tuesday, the University Assembly discussed the possibility of revising the academic calendar and planned ways to save students money on textbooks.

“I hope and believe that we can effectively channel that broad interest in campus governance towards engaging students, staff, and faculty in the important discussions the U.A. will take on in the months to come,” Gabriel Kaufman ’18 said.

Anticipating changes this year, Prof. Charlie Van Loan, the dean of university faculty, described plans for implementing revisions to the academic calendar, all of which must ultimately be approved by the provost.

“When [the calendar] was set up four years ago, part of the deal was that it would be reviewed actually three years out,” Van Loan said. “So we’re going to do that and on that committee will be people from all the assemblies, a couple faculty, the Registrar, and other high-level administrators.”

The process of reviewing the academic calendar will take into consideration student and faculty concerns in the past.

“Students increasingly need more time in the summer for jobs, so there are more conflicts with final exams, people with these courses have a certain view of things, people who have children in the public schools have a certain view of things,” Van Loan said.

Van Loan said he hopes to assemble the committee by the end of September, so that it can begin making recommendations for approval by the provost.

In a review of resolutions from last year, Kaufman also described the U.A.’s goals for a peer-to-peer textbook marketplace, a resolution the group passed in April.

“We do not have a peer-to-peer textbooks marketplace right now because we referred that resolution to a textbook price working group that met with the campus store leadership,” Kaufman said. “We’ll follow up with the campus store to see how that plays out this fall.”

While the textbook marketplace idea was abandoned when the resolution was referred to an ad-hoc committee in last November, the U.A. does plan to try to lower the costs of textbooks by moving to a revenue-neutral model at the Cornell Store.

Kaufman added that the resolution received support from administration after it was passed.

“President Rawlings, over the summer, actually acknowledged support for our recommendation, which was to move to a cost-neutral selling of textbooks, so that the University does not actually go into the green when they sell textbooks,” Kaufman said.

He admitted that these are “lofty goals” because it is “a slow process” to pass changes and see them implemented.

“The members of the U.A. constitute arguably one of the most diverse organizations Cornell has to offer … all with varying and often conflicting viewpoints but all united by our passion for maintaining Cornell’s status as one of the best global research universities,” he said.