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Student senate discusses core curriculum, library renovations

| Thursday, December 3, 2015

Student senators discussed the recently released core curriculum review draft report and listened to a presentation on library renovation updates at their weekly meeting Wednesday night.

Monday, undergraduate students received an email with information about the proposed changes to the core curriculum, including a link to the review committee’s report. Senators discussed their concerns about the changes, especially regarding the proposed policies for receiving Advanced Placement (AP) credit, transparency and how the new requirements limit options for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students.

Judicial council president Zach Waterson said the proposed requirements would make things harder on science and engineering students, who already have heavy, largely predetermined course loads.

“One of the interesting things they’ve done in the draft is they’ve actually reduced the amount of courses required you have to take by one,” he said. “They’ve done that by taking away one of the math or science requirements and there’s now no way to test out of a writing course. So that’s kind of a double whammy for science and engineering students who won’t already be taking writing classes for their major, but will have plenty of math and science courses. These requirements are actually more restrictive.”

Pasquerilla West Hall Senator Ariana Zlioba said AP credit allowed students more room to explore and the new guidelines could be too ambiguous for students to plan what they want to do.

“If you’re able to get those entry level classes out of the way, you’re able to explore as many things as possible,” she said. “The one thing I really hope, if they decide to limit AP credit, is that they are really transparent about what you’re able to test out of and what you’re not able to. From personal experience, I was told I would be able to test out of certain things and when I got here that wasn’t the case.”

Marisa Thompson, president of club coordination council (CCC), said she understood the intent of the suggested changes as a shift in focus from taking core courses to “get them out of the way” to embracing them as part of a holistic education.

“One of the reasons they’re thinking of removing that [AP credit] is that they want people to take those classes or core requirements in a university setting,” she said. “I think they want to limit the amount of credit you can get that way so you are building the liberal arts education for every student who enters the door.”

In addition to the discussion of the proposed changes, members of the Hesburgh Library Renovation Steering Committee gave a presentation to update student senators about construction progress.

University librarians Jessica Kayongo and Diane Walker, as well as senior John Wetzel, described the renovations that been completed on the first and second floors. They also showed artist renderings of what the current renovations of the tenth floor and future renovations of the first floor entrance, including the addition of a scholar’s lounge.

Kayongo said “Phase 1,” which included the gallery entrance and the tenth floor should be completed very soon.

“The first and second floors on the south end should be done in March,” she said. “The tenth floor may be done even sooner than that. When you come back for the spring semester, in January, it should be up and ready to go. These are really on the cusp of being completed.”

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley is one of the Associate News Editors for The Observer. A junior majoring in English and the Program of Liberal Studies, she hails from Flushing, MI and lives in Flaherty Hall.

Contact Megan
  • Three issues about the curriculum changes:

    1.) The AP credit issue is a national one – some schools, mostly those in the Top 25, are thinking of eliminating AP credit entirely, so Notre Dame is not acting unilaterally on this. The rationale for the elimination is reflected in what Ariana Zlioba says above: “If you’re able to get those entry level classes out of the way, you’re able to explore as many things as possible.” Colleges and universities, the elite institutions, are making the argument that college-level courses, even entry level ones, are more rigorous than AP courses and “placing out” of a college-level course is not an equivalent. Furthermore, colleges and universities, again the elite ones, want students to move away from the “What courses can I get off my list as quickly as possible?” mentality – a 4-year undergraduate education should be more than box-checking for box-checking sake. I’m not endorsing this institutional view, just offering some context for this aspect of the revisions.

    2.) Get used to navigating a whole new system of course attributes when scheduling courses.

    3.) With the removal of existing hard-fast requirements, e.g., X history, X science, some departments/institutes/programs will be phased out – their enrollments will reduce drastically, if not disappear entirely, as they rely on students who “need to fulfill a requirement” to take their courses. This is will be felt most acutely in the College of Arts & Letters {the College, presumably, with the long-established reputation of being all about “teaching”}.