Board of Visitors motions to alleviate military student issues

Mason's Office of Military Services (photo by Amy Rose)
Mason's Office of Military Services (photo by Amy Rose)

As class registration season is in full swing, a motion recently passed by the university board of visitors has a new effect on registration for those in the military. The motion, which began with spring 2014 registration, gives priority class registration to all active duty military members, veterans, reservists and the Virginia National Guard. Mason’s Board of Visitors passed this motion in response to code 23-9.2:3-7 C, established by the Virginia General Assembly, which called for accommodations to be made for military service members due to the scheduling difficulties they face.

Stephanie DeRiso, an honors criminology, law and society major and member of the Army Reserve, has dealt with schedule difficulties throughout her academic career.

“When I was finally able to sign up for classes in my first semester at GMU after being away at training, I could not get into classes at a decent time or even the classes I needed,” said DeRiso. “Trying to find an Honors College course when they only offer two was a challenge on top of trying to plan around ROTC [Reserve Officers’ Training Corps].”

Rector Clemente, the head of the board of visitors, believes that the legislation was passed because Virginia also passed legislation giving any veteran applying for university admission in-state tuition status. He sees the motion as a step toward improving retention among military students.

“If you’re not getting the classes you want and you’re at a disadvantage time wise, you’re most likely to fall out of school,” Clemente said. “So, the idea is, if you get first shot at all the classes you want then that’s going to increase retention.”

Military students should further review the motion as students who receive federal military benefits will automatically receive priority while others must self-identify through the Office of Military Services. For those who do have to self-identify, the deadlines are March 15 for fall, October 15 for spring and February 15 for summer.

The motion also connects to the Mason IDEA, the new defining characteristics of the university, set forth by President Cabrera. The IDEA is that Mason is an institution that is Innovative, Diverse, Entrepreneurial and Accessible.

“This university is developed because the community said there’s a need for something and that need is to provide services to groups of individuals,” said Renell Wynn, vice president of Marketing and Communication for Mason.

DeRiso says that she does see this motion as a way for her to balance her commitments. Both Clemente and Wynn agree that this motion is a “good will” that will hopefully alleviate some of the struggles that students like DeRiso face.

“I think it’s important for us to stand up and say [...] you’re important to us. What can we do to help you through this process and continue to serve your country,” said Wynn of the motion’s meaning.

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