April 22, 2019 | 52° F

RUSA meeting discuses efforts to synthesize Rutgers' administrative decisions

Photo by Brittany Gibson |

At a Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) meeting last semester, Ben Sifuentes-Jáuregui, the vice chancellor for Undergraduate Academic Affairs, discussed the report Rutgers was working on at the time to decide which learning system to implement University-wide.

Ben Sifuentes-Jáuregui, the vice chancellor for Undergraduate Academic Affairs and a professor in the Department of American Studies, addressed the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) and members of the public during the assembly’s weekly Thursday meeting.

The vice chancellor came to the meeting to describe both the work he does and how his organization strives to improve the academic experience for undergraduates. 

“You are my peeps,” Sifuentes-Jáuregui said. 

He described what areas Academic Affairs is looking into and the resources it provides students with everyday.

“We do three main things. First of all, we oversee a host of programs that support students like the learning centers and career services. We also direct programs such as the access grant programs which are federal and state grants that help first-generation, low-income students, as well as managing the excellence programs,” Sifuentes-Jáuregui said. 

He mentioned that technology has begun improving rapidly in the last few years, and that Rutgers is working to accommodate these changes to make sure the University’s policies stay current and relevant in the modern environment of academics — especially when it comes to recording devices in class. 

“What (is) important is that for the first time, in Rutgers, we actually started thinking about burgeoning technologies that are going on and how students learn and how they use technologies to learn. Our regulations do not have inscribed in them how these technologies affect how students learn,” he said. 

Sifuentes-Jáuregui said that one of the big issues he comes across often is that not all University rules are written out and easily accessible. 

The vice chancellor is leading a push to gather and transcribe the year’s worth of administrative decisions, guidelines and materials and compile them into a more easily accessible library. It would make the process of academic regulation and decision making run more smoothly, he said. 

He said that there are a few reports that the Rutgers community should look out for in the upcoming months. The Learning Method Systems is a report in the works that will investigate the many different supplementary system’s usage of programs like Blackboard and Sakai and will recommend which ones are best to implement University-wide. It will report on academic integrity and the use of recording devices in class as well. 

Sifuentes-Jáuregui has been with Rutgers since 1997. He has served as the chair of the Department of American Studies and has an extensive array of awards and honors, including the Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching and the award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education. 

He has written and contributed to several books on Latin American culture studies, and is involved in many programs relevant to the University through institutions such as Rutgers English Diversity Institute and the Aresty Research Center

Following the vice chancellor’s visit, the Assembly heard and voted on legislation that would potentially change language in its governing documents to remove the one-year membership requirement of running for vice president. The bill would allow the undergraduate student body to vote on allowing first-year members to be viable candidates for the spot. 

“It's about accessibility and inclusivity,” said Vladimir Carrasco, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. 

This policy would allow students to truly engage in undergraduate representation, he said. 

Representatives voiced concern over the potential lack of experience a first-year president would have. They said that RUSA has many procedures and conventions that require a student government understanding.

After more than an hour of debate and deliberation, as well as several amendments and motions, the legislation failed in a 22-26 vote.The potential new rules would have gone into effect next election cycle, so they would not have directly affected any current potential candidates.

Next week, RUSA will host Chancellor Debasish Dutta at its weekly meeting on Thursday, Feb. 22.

Andrew Petryna

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