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Our Opinion: Keep Students First; Make GER Changes Retroactive

By The Editorial Board Posted: 04/04/2008
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Last month, the faculty took the first step toward a much-needed revision of the General Education Requirements. We, like many students, applaud the proposed changes, which would cut down the number of hours needed to complete the GERs and make every class in the College fulfill at least one requirement. But before the faculty takes the next steps, they should consider how some of the fineprint on the new curriculum will affect current students.

If the faculty approves the changes at their next meeting, they will also have to decide whether the new, simpler GERs can be applied retroactively to those students who have planned or shaped their academic instruction around the old ones. We believe they should.

Yes, the ensuing logistical nightmare of figuring out which old courses fulfill which new requirements will likely be the source of many headaches for all the parties involved — from College officials and advisors to students — but that should not deter the faculty from making the changes retroactive. After all, the new GERs were approved in the first round of voting because they still provide a robust liberal arts education, and current students should not be unfairly held to more stringent requirements.

That’s not to say they should brush aside the progress students made under the old GERs. Current students should be able to keep the credit hours and requirements they have already earned or satisfied. Otherwise, they might find themselves scrambling to take extra classes because that one GER that fulfilled two requirements a year ago now only fulfills one. They might have to stay another semester because the College will have stopped giving credit for AP scores that aren’t a 5. The horror stories would abound.

If it looks like we’re advocating on behalf of having it both ways, that’s because we are. The faculty has shown itself to be admirably open-minded and responsive to student concerns by approving these changes once, and we encourage them to make sure every student gets the most out of them when they vote a second time.

The above staff editorials represent the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board.

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