Some unhappy with AS cuts

The recent decrease in drop- in tutoring hours at Academic Support has been a topic of con- cern for student tutors, not only as it shortens their hours, but how it may inconvenience or inhibit students’ availability to receive such services.

“The dual purpose in having that drop-in clinic is for a range of subjects and also for people to study, so cutting down the hours three-and-a-half hours a day is going to make a big impact on those students who use it for those purposes,” said Camille Jackson, a peer writing tutor.

Drop-in writing services were at the forefront of these cutbacks. Last semester, there were drop-in writing services from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Now, those hours are cut back to 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Assistant Vice President of Academic Services Jen Jones explained that after she and Director Rachel Mark began evaluating statistics in June, they “felt comfortable to cut low usage hours.”

Data showed “fewer than five students throughout the whole semester” in the hours that were cut, with those statistics not tracking “unofficial use of the space,” such as printing or doing homework without use of a tutor.

Jones also detailed the prioritization of to help students. In their new model, students are encouraged to use twice in that subject area before requesting a tutor.

“In 2022-23, Castleton students had 362 sessions with a tutor and of those, writing tutoring comprised 40% of those sessions,” Jones said.

An overwhelming majority of the feedback and comments were positive, supporting that the platform is equally effective for students, and could be more inclusive to those not on campus.

However, according to peer STEM tutor, Petra Veljkovic, has not been so effective for other subjects, such as higher-level science classes. She claimed that several of her students have expressed dissatisfaction with the service and require in-person tutoring.

She also noted the integration of science drop-in tutoring into STEM, which covers a broader range of topics, which also faced a cut; previously 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., now 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Despite working less, Veljkovic said she is “okay with [her] hours” and gives credit to her advisors and bosses who were “very advocating, helping students be tutors and continuing the tradition of it.”

For another peer tutor, who wished to remain anonymous, their disappointment lies with the VTSU-wide budget cuts.

“The fact that the reduction of hours was due to budget cuts is really disheartening, because not only does it not bode well for Academic Support services as a whole, but it shows that the concern for the budget is going up, while the concern for student benefits is going down,” the tutor said.

Jacob Caricato, a junior on the wrestling team, which requires a minimum of two hours a week at Academic Support for all its players, shares this perspective.

“Academic Support is liter- ally the most useful tool on cam- pus,” he said. “Going into the merger, we were all told that every school would benefit, but it seems like Castleton is catching the short end of the stick here. How could removing funding from such a central entity of the college be beneficial?”

Although logging into Academic Support for two hours a week in “not in itself a big ask,” it is often difficult for players, like Caricato, to find a convenient time to go; in between classes, practices, meals, meetings, and more. Students and tutors say limiting evening hours is ultimately a disservice.

Academic Support administrators urge students to take the upcoming survey in November, asking for feedback. This feedback, along with evaluation of Fall ‘23 usage data, will help determine if and how hours and other aspects should be addressed.

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