AVIATE sparks student, administration discussion

By: Amanda Dee – Social Media Manager

On Oct. 5, Assistant Dean of Students and Executive Director of Housing and Residence Life Steve Herndon, Director of Housing Operations Jim Froehlich and Coordinator of Co-Curricular Learning Danielle Page announced to the Student Government Association the AVIATE housing system, which Herndon said has been in the works since May of 2012.

This was the first time sophomore SGA Director of Housing and Residence Life Andrew Hamilton heard about the new housing system, and Hamilton said “the average student found out much later.”

On Oct. 19, SGA directors and senators passed a resolution in a 20-0-0 vote for more information and transparency regarding this system.

Seventy-one percent of 600 undergraduate students said AVIATE is worse than the lottery system, 23 percent said they wished they had more input in the decision, three percent did not know how they felt or did not care and three percent said the system is better than the previous one, according to a Flyer News online poll as of Sunday.

The AVIATE point system outlines three learning goals (authorship, interculturalism and community living), all of which are the “results of what you hope to learn during your time as a UD student,” as cited from the AVIATE PowerPoint presented at informational sessions. To receive housing points, called PATH points, students need to write a reflection after certain qualified events. To qualify, events must be sponsored by a campus organization or university department, open to all students, large-scale or ongoing and free.

Under these restrictions, work, co-op, study abroad and athletic events will not count for points; some Greek, service-learning, club and certain academic events or programs will not count for points either.

“Students need to care about this,” Hamilton said, “because this is their housing, their money and their time.”

Some specific groups that are affected, by the numbers:

SORORITY AND FRATERNITY MEMBERS

Director of Greek Life Kevin Cane said there are 1,370 undergraduate students in “values-based” Greek programs this fall.

Students involved in Greek Life can benefit from their Greek involvement if they apply for special interest housing, according to the Oct. 5 AVIATE presentation.

CO-OP, INTERNSHIPS AND STUDENTS IN SERVICE

About 250 students per semester are typically on work term through the engineering school’s co-op program, according to Assistant Director of Industrial Relations Nancy Chase. Most of the co-ops are 40 hours per week, and many are not local.

Chase said students doing full-time co-ops will be ineligible to participate in daytime AVIATE events because their employers would not permit missing work for those events.

“It’s trickier for them,” Chase said. “There’s not an ‘absolutely you’re going to be on [a co-op]’ or ‘you’re absolutely going to be off [a co-op].’”

Since internships in the communication and business schools aren’t always reported for UD credit, these numbers don’t include any semester-long internship programs. According to Office of the Provost records, 74 percent of students participate in community service as well.

Students engaging in co-ops or any semester-long experiential learning program should receive 15 catch up points for these situations, according to the AVIATE PowerPoint presentation.

STUDENTS STUDYING ABROAD

This semester, the Office of Education Abroad staff members documented 133 students abroad and about 450 at the study abroad fair at the beginning of the semester. About 7.4 percent of UD students study abroad every year, according to Office of the Provost records.

Students studying abroad also will receive the 15 catch up points, according to the AVIATE PowerPoint presentation.

HONORS STUDENTS

According to Director of Communications and Student Records in the honors program Ramona Speranza, 285 juniors, 354 sophomores and 349 first years are enrolled in the honors program. Honors students must take 21 honors credits and maintain a 3.5 or higher GPA all four years at UD.

Honors student and Marianist Leadership Scholar Alejandro Trujillo, a junior psychology major, said his daughter, his loved ones and leaving a positive impact on his community dominate his schedule.

“[The new system] impacts how other students are expected to behave on campus as students,” Trujillo said. “It’s dangerous because it’s valuing going to one specific event for points, not involved students who are in things they are passionate about and in for the long term.”

Honors students can benefit from their honors status if they apply for special interest housing, according to the Oct. 5 AVIATE presentation.

DISCUSSION AT THE OCT. 5 MEETING

When senior business school academic representative Erin Malone asked whether or not commuters and landlord tenants would have equal opportunity, Froehlich said they will miss about 10 percent of points and Housing and Residence Life is “still figuring things out for the future.”

SGA Director of Campus Unity (and co-sponsor of the transparency resolution) Ian Edgley, a junior political science major, addressed the factor of what he called “forced opportunity.” He said, “this reminds me of when you had to do service in high school. You just did it, so you got a good grade.”

In response, Herndon said, “I can’t address a person’s motive, but what I can address is the opportunities students are given. I can’t control a student’s experience and what they get out of things…”

Replies to the Flyer News Twitter suggested PATH points for sorority, fraternity, band members or any group that supports UD community.

In response to SGA and Flyer News feedback, student development and SGA generated a survey with questions and space to type positive comments on the new system and suggestions for improvement.

“This is an attempt to change the culture in our neighborhoods without fully understanding the problems surrounding them, such as inconsistent discipline, varying standards—among other more complex issues,” Hamilton said in an interview with Flyer News, “Which has merit, but ultimately ignores the integral issues in the neighborhood.”

Editor’s Note: Visit Flyer News on Facebook to find the link to the survey, which will close Friday, Nov. 14. Members of SGA also will set up tables at KU and the RecPlex with tablets to take the survey. SGA has yet to make any official decision on whether or not it supports AVIATE. Updates and further information about the locations of these tables and the housing system will be posted on Flyer News’ Facebook and Twitter.