SA looks for minor changes to D-plan

by Rachel Osterman | 11/9/00 6:00am

Dartmouth should enhance communication with students who are off campus, offer more courses during Sophomore Summer and help alleviate moving problems, according to a newly released Student Assembly report on the D-Plan.

The report, approved at Tuesday's Assembly meeting, comes in the immediate aftermath of the College's decision last month to make no major changes to Dartmouth's unique calendar system.

But at a time when the administration is looking to improve social and residential life at the College, the Assembly is hoping its recommendations will wield significant influence.

While the Assembly does not suggest any sweeping changes to the D-Plan, it does recommend small changes it thinks will create more continuity within Dartmouth's existing system.

"The College has a responsibility to address some of the weaknesses of the D-Plan" without getting rid of it, Chair of Student Life Committee Molly Stutzman '02 said at Tuesday's meeting.

In addition to issuing recommendations, the report also includes data from a campus-wide BlitzMail survey sent to students last spring.

About a fourth of the student body responded, indicating that students are split roughly evenly between those who favor the continuation of the D-Plan and those who would like to see it significantly altered.

Of the respondents, 57.2 percent said the Summer term residency should be required. While 65.8 percent of students hold a favorable view toward the more than two-decade old calendar system, 30.5 view the D-Plan unfavorably.

The survey also found that there is no difference by major or foreign study experience between those who prefer the D-Plan and those who don't. The main factors affecting students' opinions toward the D-Plan, according to the survey, are social and extra-curricular. Those who rate the D-Plan negatively are more likely to say that it aversely affects their social and, to a lesser extent, extra-curricular life.

"The results of this survey didn't mandate any major changes," Stutzman said. "A lot of what we find was kind of common sense, but it's good to have student opinion documented."

The Assembly endorsed the report on Tuesday in a nearly unanimous vote, which means that the report will be sent to Dean of the College James Larimore within the next week.

Members voiced some concern that the administration would not give the report due consideration, but Stutzman -- who helped coordinate the D-Plan study -- told the body otherwise.

" We met with President [of the College James] Wright this Friday and he was very receptive to the changes, especially improving the academic quality of Sophomore Summer," she said. "He said a lot of the recommendations are things he had already thought about."

Specifically, the report says the D-Plan creates a need for more advising, and recommends an improvement in the academic advising system.

The report also says the College should enhance communication with students who are not on campus by giving advance notice of deadlines, letting students know the locations of their peers and helping students search for leave-term housing.

Perhaps the boldest suggestion in the report is that the College make Sophomore Summer a full academic term. To do this, the Assembly suggests that more courses be offered in the summer and that offices and departments stay open for regular business hours.

In addition, the report requests that the College aid students in moving in and out of dorms, arguing that the D-Plan requires students to change residencies with unusual frequency. To do this, the reports suggests that more dollies be added to dorms and that College vehicles be used to assist students.