NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

Student Senate Surveys Scholars 


On March 20, the phones of most NJIT students rang with a message from the Student Senate Academic Affairs committee. It proposed three measures to improve undergraduate academic life, which were: 

1. Adding two wellness days per student, per semester.  

2. Adding another common hour to the weekly schedule.  

3. Extending the “drop” portion of the week-long class add/drop period. 

627 students responded to the survey, making up around 8% of the undergraduate student body. Each year and college were represented fairly, with remarkable correspondence between the proportions of students from each college represented in the survey and the overall makeup of colleges at NJIT.  

Student Senate president Mark Nashed and vice president of administration Mariam Sharobim met with interim provost Dr. Atam Dhawan, interim senior vice provost for academic affairs Dr. Edwin Hou, and vice president of student affairs Dr. Marybeth Boger to discuss these changes after the results of the survey.   

Wellness Days 

The wellness day initiative was introduced as a way for students to excuse themselves from class for mental health-related reasons or simply for a break if they are feeling overwhelmed. Excused absences generally require a doctor’s note or other documentation sent to the Dean of Students; adding two wellness days would have allowed students to not attend class without such testimonials.  

Although the wellness day idea was overwhelmingly favored by respondents, the administrators expressed concerns about disruptions to classroom instruction, saying that the wellness day excuses would be hard to keep track of for 12,000 students. Excused absences are currently handled by the Office of the Dean of Students. However, as the wellness day initiative would be on a much larger scale, with a large percentage of students likely using it if implemented, it would be difficult for the office or individual professors to manage. 

Alternatively, the administrators proposed implementing one wellness day for the entire university, during which no classes would be in session. This day would also have optional wellness-related programming on campus for students and faculty. As the academic calendar for the 2023-24 school year has been planned already, this measure would be introduced in Fall 2024 if approved.  

Student Feedback on Wellness Days 

“Would you benefit from a wellness day?” 

Would Benefit 

“Yes I definitely would. I am a student athlete here and sometimes I just need a break from class and practice. Some days I emotionally, mentally, and even physically just can’t handle being in class. Being a college student is hard and sometimes we just need a day to ourselves without the burden of having to go to a class that is at least 80 mins to almost 3 hrs.” 

“There are less extreme reasons to need to skip class that are not necessarily covered by the doctor’s note policy (i.e. bad menstrual cramps). I think having these parameters in place help a student succeed in classes.” 

“Yes I would. Sometimes, when the semester is in full swing, I just need to stay home and work on my assignments. Commuting 50 minutes each way 4 times a week can be pretty draining at times.” 

“There have been several times in my academic journey when I became overwhelmed with assignments or my personal life, but felt I could not take a break to rest because of fear that I would fall behind. But by not stopping when I became overwhelmed, I ended up underperforming in courses where I understood the material very well. Having wellness days would have benefited me then.” 

“There are days where I am burnt out and it is hard to focus. I basically pull myself to class for attendance only and will often zone out even when I try to focus.” 

“I would benefit from a wellness day because I have a lot of responsibilities outside of school that can be hard to constantly balance with classes sometimes. I also take very long public transport commutes everyday that are incredibly exhausting especially for night classes. Stress physically affects my health and it’s resulted in seeking medical attention for the physical toll.” 

“Yes, especially with our hectic schedules, a day to either recover our mental health or physical health could be super helpful. I see way too many students on the brink of either exhaustion from having no sleep the night prior or way too many students having to juggle school and work so having these days will really help our physical and mental health which could actually increase work flow.” 

Would Not Benefit 

“I do not think a wellness day will be beneficial because there will be work and concepts that we will miss by not going to class.” 

“No, most professors do not care if you miss class and explain what is going on in an email. In the professional world as long as you explain your circumstances to your manger/boss they tend to help and understand we you need a day of. It is just a part of life that I think is important to learn in college, better than in the workforce.” 

“I don’t think I would – While the idea of a wellness day is really nice and makes sense, I could see myself taking advantage of it and I’m sure this would be the case for many others. Sometimes you just have to rally and get yourself to class even if you’re not feeling the best.” 

Adding a Common Hour 

The addition of another common hour was slightly more controversial, with most students electing to keep the Friday common hour if another could not be added and around 87% of respondents desiring an additional period. The additional common hour was meant to give students a guaranteed break between classes, allow for attending more activities, and give clubs another time to host meetings.  

Students who were opposed primarily cited scheduling concerns, saying that they would find it difficult to add the necessary classes and that the system of common times for class might be thrown off. The administrators also expressed this concern, saying that an additional common hour would not be compatible with the goal of providing as many courses and course sections as possible. The Student Senate committee for academic affairs requested a heat map of common class and noticed that very few classes are in session on Wednesdays from 4–6 p.m.  

As a result, instead of adding a new common hour, the Wednesday common hour will be extended from 2:30–6 p.m. starting in Fall 2023. This will allow clubs to spread out their events and general body meetings, potentially letting students to be involved in more activities. The Senate also suggests Mondays from 4–6 p.m. for events, as fewer than 25% of classes meet during this time. 

Student responses expressing concern: 

“Personally, I am content with the common hours that we have now and I think adding another one would make it difficult to organize my schedule to be able to take all of the classes I want to take during a given semester.”  

“The idea of an extra common hour sounds nice however I feel like it will also decrease the amount of classes available.”  

“This idea, in my opinion, is not fully thought through. In terms of scheduling for classes this is a nightmare for the school to deal with. On top of that this would mean that classes that are usually during this time would have to move to a different time and day and potentially cause overlapping classes. This wont help students when they are planning their courses for the following semester and might make more people take summer classes.”   

Extending the Drop Portion of the Add-Drop Week 

This question accrued somewhat mixed responses, with 61% of students saying that the one-week add/drop period is too short, and the other 39% disagreeing. However, a vast majority of students supported the idea of the drop period being extended. This initiative was meant to allow students to get a better judgment of their class’s structure and content; while most classes meet twice before students must decide whether to keep the class, night classes meet only once. Additionally, many respondents expressed the concern that some professors do not provide syllabi or course materials within the first week.  

Administrators disagreed, saying that the measures would result in disruptions in financial aid packages and cited a pilot that was tried several years ago. Nashed and Sharobim brought up the issue of students enrolled in classes that do not meet during the first week, such as select labs. For these special circumstances, the committee of academic affairs plans to ask if exceptions can be made for students who have not had their first class until after the end of the add/drop week. 

NJIT’s Digital Commons is an online database on which students can access previous course syllabi; the humanities department, for example, often posts course syllabi for each section on this website. Nashed and Sharobim requested that the administrators push for other departments to use this database, as being able to access previous syllabi will help students select courses and professors prior to registration.  

Student Feedback 

Would benefit: 

“yes, i’ve had professors fail to provide syllabi, an overview of the course, or even show up during week 1 and i had to go in blind for the rest of the semester. on top of that, syllabus week lectures usually don’t match the tone for the rest of the semester.” 

“I would definitely have benefited from this last semester because I didn’t realize until a week and a half in the course that it was just too difficult for me. I need to get to the core concepts so that extra week to drop would have been helpful instead of just withdrawing.” 

“One week is definitely not enough time to judge if a class is worth taking at the time or not. As one week of classes encompasses only 1 day of classes in reality as the other day you go over the syllabus the entire time. To judge the class it’s better to extend it by another week so we get at least 2-3 classes to determine Load of the class and wellness.”  

“yes because a week isn’t enough to decide whether to switch or keep a class. Especially since the first classes are usually for the syllabus.” 

“Sometimes, you need at least 3 classes to gauge whether you and a professor or class work together for you. If it is a 6-9 class on a Monday, you only have ONE class meeting before you HAVE to decide whether to drop this class and add another one. That is extremely unfair to many students.” 

Would not benefit: 

“Personally, it doesn’t really matter to me because my schedule is pretty set in stone and there are no plans to deviate, however, for others, it might be very useful.”  

“I do not think it is necessary to add more time to the add/drop period as it should be a fast decision, rather than drag out.”  

“Not really since I’m in the mindset of just having to deal with bad classes.”  


“I would benefit from this extension because one week is not long enough to determine if the class is right for me and how well I could perform. However, I would probably benefit more from the add portion if space fills up in a class that I wanted or suited my schedule better.”  

“I do support the extension. However, this is the least out of all 3 initiatives that I think are overall beneficial. An extended week of drop means that there will be gaps in classes and they will not be filled to their capacities. Although that does have its benefits, it’s not really fair for students who wanted to get into those classes, just for others to drop it with no means for those students to get in. I hope this makes sense, but if there was an extension for drop, there should also be an extension for add, or don’t do it at all.”  

“Why not extend the add week too? It’s not administration’s issue whether students are unable to catch up with class or not. Should be student’s choice in consultation with professor.” 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Vector

Your donation will support the student journalists of New Jersey Institute of Technology. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Mrunmayi Joshi, Managing Editor
Donate to The Vector

Comments (0)

All The Vector Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *