Providing Academic Support to Students (PASS), a tutoring program run by the Undergraduate Student Government, will resume operations in the coming weeks, said Derek Cope, current vice president of academic affairs, who oversees PASS.
The program, which supplements various tutoring services on campus, was launched in 2007 to provide students with one-on-one assistance, but it only ran for a short time last year before operations stopped.
Adil Hussain told The Statesman in April that before he was elected to the position in the fall of 2011, his predecessor, Shamell Forbes, had depleted the program’s budget. This forced the program to be shut down because tutors could not be paid.
Cope said he believes that the $20,000 budget ran out prematurely because tutors were being dishonest about the number of hours they were with their students and were receiving weekly paychecks of $450.
Records of how Forbes used the budget and how tutors were misusing the program no longer exist, Cope said.
According to Cope, tutors get paid $15.00 per hour to work with up to three students, and each student can receive up to 10 hours of assistance per week.
As new vice president of academic affairs, Cope said he is trying to revise the bylaws of the program “to maximize the budget so that more students can get tutoring and the budget can last for a longer amount of time.”
This year’s budget for PASS, which is funded by the mandatory Student Activity Fee, is $30,000.
Cope said he plans to change the bylaws to decrease how many hours per week students can receive tutoring from 10 to three and pay for tutors $10 an hour instead of $15.
In addition to such changes, Cope said he plans to implement procedures to safeguard against continued dishonesty by tutors.
“Now there are going to be time sheets that each tutor has to fill out and the tutee has to sign,” Cope said, “and the student liaison will sit in and evaluate the tutor on a monthly basis to make sure they’re providing an adequate tutoring service and being truthful about the amount of hours they tutor.”
Cope also said that any tutors caught trying to cheat the bylaws would be fired.
If the USG Senate does not approve his proposal, Cope said that the current bylaws will have to remain in place. If that is the case, Cope will limit the number of students tutored each per week so that the budget lasts until May and PASS remains operational.
“It’s a limited budget of $30,000, which means $15,000 per semester,” Cope said. “If I pay the tutors $10 an hour, that means at max 90 hours of tutoring per week, which is only 30 students. It might have to come down to first come first serve.”
To qualify for the position, tutors must have received at least an A- in the course they wish to tutor or get a letter of recommendation from a professor who teaches the course.
Cope said that interviews for tutors have already been conducted, but none of the positions can be filled until the Senate approves them.
He also said that he has noticed a need for a tutoring center at SBU and is working to organize such a resource for students.
“As of now there is no center on campus that centralizes tutoring,” Cope said. “I have been meeting with Dr. Charlie Robbins, vice provost, and we are working on a project for that.”
Sandy Ren, a sophomore nursing major, said that she would like to see a centralized tutoring location on campus.
“I feel like it would be a lot easier if you could have people from each department in one location,” Ren said. “Then if you need physics and calculus tutoring, it’s in the same place instead of going all the way to different ends of the campus.”
Satabdi Sugandha, a sophomore English major, said that tutoring should be mandatory.
“Just one mandatory fifteen minute session,” Sugandha said. “Getting students there is the hardest part, but I think after that everything would flow and students would be doing a lot better.”