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Students attend class at ND, SMC in exchange program

Emily Keebler | Friday, September 21, 2007

For Saint Mary’s senior Kristina Ramos, commuting to her “International Migration and Human Rights” class requires a 20-minute bike ride twice a week. Ramos is one of more than one hundred Saint Mary’s students and more than 60 Notre Dame students who commute across State Road 31 to take classes away from their home campus.

Ramos said the Notre Dame sociology course appealed to her, and she enrolled in it because Saint Mary’s had no similar course offerings. Ramos also has completed several Center for Social Concerns seminars through the co-exchange program.

“I like new experiences so I’m glad that I am taking a course over there,” Ramos said.

Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students are able to take classes at both campuses through a co-exchange program. Lora Spaulding, the assistant registrar at Notre Dame, said 63 Notre Dame students and more than 100 Saint Mary’s students currently participate in the program.

“The benefit for the student is to try classes not available on the home campus,” Saint Mary’s registrar Lorraine Kitchner said.

Through the exchange program, Kitchner said, students can also observe how each campus operates.

Ramos agreed that the campus cultures of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s are distinct. “[Notre Dame] is a lot bigger,” Ramos said. “I’d say it’s an environment that cultivates more stress … it’s more of a serene feeling at Saint Mary’s.”

Notre Dame students who participate in the co-exchange often take education and dance classes. Saint Mary’s students tend to take engineering, foreign language, ROTC and music courses like marching band.

Notre Dame junior James DuBray is fulfilling his Arts and Letters literature requirement at Saint Mary’s.

“It seemed like a course that offered a little more substance,” DuBray said of the course on 19th-century novels. “I just thought the Notre Dame courses for the literature requirement were lacking.”

DuBray enjoys his course and professor but said that, as a male Notre Dame student on an all-girls campus, the first class days were difficult.

“You’re trying not to stand out more than you already do … you’re not taking the course for some inappropriate reason,” he said. “You’re taking it because you’re interested in it.”

Both Ramos and DuBray said knowing people on the opposite campus has made their experience better. DuBray said he enjoys taking a class with his cousin at Saint Mary’s.

The registration process for co-exchange includes filling out an online form and demonstrating that prerequisites have been met. The schedule book and registrar’s home page at each institution provide information and course lists.

“I’d say [co-exchange] is being used to the fullest potential by the Saint Mary’s students,” Spaulding said. “I think they’re more aware of it.”

Ramos agreed that Saint Mary’s students know about it, even though not everyone takes advantage of the program.

“The underclassmen are interested in what it is and how it compares to Saint Mary’s,” Ramos said. “They’re very curious because they might want to try it.”

Co-exchange is available in the fall and spring semesters, and grades earned are calculated into GPA.