scue

Courtesy of Jane Xiao

SCUE may not be the most well-known of student government branches — but Engineering junior Shawn Srolovitz wants to change that.

Srolovitz will take over as Chair External of the Student Committee for Undergraduate Education in the spring, after a year working as chair internal. SCUE is a branch of Penn’s student government devoted to improving undergraduate education at Penn. He sat down with the Daily Pennsylvanian to discuss his plans for SCUE in 2017.

Daily Pennsylvanian: In 2015, SCUE published a “white paper,” outlining goals such as NSO modules, gap year information availability, holistic education and more. How do you plan to accomplish SCUE’s currently unfinished goals?

Shawn Srolovitz: My main goal as chair external is to pivot SCUE to be a more student-facing body. SCUE has been traditionally really great at interfacing with administrators, sharing our ideas and working together with the administration to get our goals pushed. I want to make sure that, in addition, we are really focusing our efforts for what the students need. I am interested in presenting our work to student groups that have a stake in our project, as well as sharing more widely with the undergraduate population what we are doing with the goal of making sure that we are really focusing on the needs of students.

DP: Could you elaborate on some of the upcoming SCUE projects?

SS: We have four SCUE projects going on total. We’re working on half-credit courses and [creating a] holistic education. We’re also working on access to academic resources, trying to bridge the gap for first generation low-income students coming into college. Research [suggests there is] a big gap. Everyone is here for a reason, and we want to make sure that everyone is supported and has the resources they need to be successful while at Penn.

One of the key things we did this past year, continuing into this year, is looking at course costs. We want to ensure that there are not a lot of extra fees on top of paying tuition associated with the classes. We’re working closely with the administration and Penn First, along with the Undergraduate Assembly, to analyze what professors are including on their syllabus and ensuring that we aren’t charging too much for extra classes. Our last project is called Steal This Penn, a fun little play on words. We’re trying to tackle the idea that Penn is a really decentralized university. The goal of [the project] is to be a website that combines and centralizes all the resources found across Penn, including a lot of fun different things that [many] don’t even know exist. For example, you can go get free nutrition counseling at Student Health. There are also free 3-D printers in a lot of the libraries that students don’t know they have access to. We’re looking at trying to centralize those resources into one place so students can take advantage of their experience.

DP: Why did you decide to run for SCUE chair external?

SS: SCUE is the first organization that I joined, in my first semester freshman year, and it has been the most constant part of my life at Penn. I’m really passionate about our mission, and I believe that we [...] have the opportunity and the ability to make tangible changes. Last year, I was chair internal, which allowed me to gain a good understanding of our projects and initiatives as well as start to connect with the administrators. I want to use this year to focus on pushing our ideas, seeing that we [achieve] tangible change [and] empowering everyone at SCUE, as well as the general student body, to see that they have the potential to create these changes and create a unified front for change at the University.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

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