Plus 1 initiative in the works

Student Government’s “Plus 1 Scholars Program” may need to wait plus one more years before taking effect.

Plus 1 was a main platform of SG President Nawara Alawa’s administration during the spring 2012 election. The initiative would allow students to study an academic passion separate from the student’s current degree for an additional year without paying for tuition.

As Alawa’s term comes to an end, Plus 1 remains in its planning stages. The current executive board originally had a goal of completing the project by the end of this semester.

“We are hoping to implement the project correctly and efficiently instead of quickly just to check it off of our list,” she said.

A  main challenge was finding ways to integrate the fifth-year option into the current framework of the curriculums of each school or college.

“Working with each of them to figure out the best way to make this happen has been more complex than initially expected,” Alawa said.

Alawa said that William Green, dean of undergraduate education, has been helpful in connecting SG to the deans.

“He has a greater and more broad understanding of how academics at the university work,” she said.

UM’s Plus 1 program is based on the current Take 5 Scholars Program at the University of Rochester. Rochester’s website states that Take 5 is intended for students who wish to “explore additional disciplines and courses that might not otherwise be available to them.”

According to Rochester’s publication Campus Times, Take 5 helps students enhance their undergraduate education by letting them take courses outside of their majors.

Roshal Patel, the student government president at Rochester and a Take 5 scholar, said that students must meet with their academic adviser and a Take 5 adviser to plan their course of study.

“Even though I am going into healthcare, I am able to study music engineering and grow as a person,” he said.

Junior Uju Akaniru, a biomedical engineering major, feels that a fifth year would allow her to  take more humanities courses.

“I want to get a more rounded education in psychology and philosophy,” she said.

Bhumi Patel, the SG president-elect, hopes to start where Alawa left off.

“Even if it’s something established like farmers market or something that requires work like [Plus 1], we thought of the previous administration’s initiatives in planning our ideas,” she said.