CASG proposes course outline policy change

Carleton’s Academic Student Government (CASG) is putting forth a proposal to Carleton’s Senate that would require professors to post course outlines a week before classes begin.

The current policy allows professors to distribute the syllabi the day before the class begins.

Justin Bergamini, CASG’s vice-president (operations), said he wants to ensure that students are not overwhelmed at the beginning of a semester.

“Getting these course outlines available a week in advance would allow students to prepare themselves more for their year . . . a little bit of preparation at the beginning of the year can go a long way,” he said.

Bergamini added students could explore more cost-friendly textbook options and better prepare for the semester ahead if the course outlines were distributed earlier.

“It is actually no additional work for the professors . . . the cost associated for the professors is very minimal, but the benefit to students is immense,” he said. “It is very hard to seek out more affordable options for textbooks when you get your course outline and the next day . . . you may already have a reading assigned.”

Irene Wang, a second-year global and international studies student, echoed Bergamini’s sentiment, and said that given the high cost of textbooks, having extra time to compare prices would be beneficial for students.

“Textbooks can be . . .  expensive, so once I found what books are required . . . I need to assess my options, either by seeing if I can pick them up from the library . . . [or] browsing different bookstores for the best price,” she said.

Wang added it is difficult to decide on courses at the beginning of the term without seeing the syllabi.

“I like to wait until I get my course outline to see . . . [if] I want to take it,” she said. “[That’s] hard to do when course outlines are being uploaded sometimes the night before class.”

Kaitlyn Joyce, a third-year public affairs and policy management student, said it would not be that hard for professors to comply if the new policy is passed.

“It is not like they have to write a completely new one every year, so I don’t think it would be that hard to publish a week before,” she said.

Joyce added it can benefit all students, and said she thinks there are no drawbacks to the student body if the policy is passed.

So far, CASG has also received support for the proposal from the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) and the Rideau River Residence Association, Bergamini said.

CUSA president Fahd Alhattab said the proposal will not only benefit students, but Haven Books as well.

“I think it’s fantastic on two fronts,” Alhattab said. “The students would be able to know their courses ahead of time, and one of the biggest competitive advantages the [Carleton] bookstore has, is that we don’t always know what textbooks professors actually want. If they’re being given that earlier, we can get those books and make them cheaper for students, so that would be awesome for our business [Haven Books] also.”

The proposal is set to go before the Senate committee on April 29.

Bergamini said he is optimistic that the proposal will be passed.

“We’re shooting for one week in advance . . . I think it is going to happen,” he said.

– Photo illustration by Angela Tilley