Core fears surface at student forums

By Amanda Hunt

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Fear of a watered-down education surfaced at an honors student discussion about the core curriculum proposal last week.

The College of Arts and Sciences Student Advisory Council organized three forums, held every Wednesday for the last three weeks, to discuss the core curriculum proposal. Students had an opportunity to meet with administrators to analyze the plan that would transform undergraduate general education at the University of Arizona.

About 15 students attended the first forum in Coronado Residence Hall. About 30 students attended each of the two following forums in the honor halls, Yavapai and Yuma, said Jean Abraham, president of the council. A panel of administrators, faculty and students led each forum.

Under the core curriculum proposal, students in every college would take 30 units of classes fulfilling the requirements of two levels of general education. The first tier would consist of 18 units in general science, individuals and societies, traditions and cultures, and one composition course. The second tier would follow with 12 units from those areas and another composition course. Students would end up taking two courses from each area, except their major course of study.

Abraham said the proposal received "strong opposition" at the honor hall forums for a number of reasons. Some students feared that the courses would be watered-down and lower in quality and questioned how the proposal would affect honors courses and advanced placement credit from high school courses.

Wendy Whiting, a junior in English and history, said the proposal eliminates choices and is a simplistic solution for graduating students on time. Whiting sat on the panel at the last forum.

"It penalizes the motivated student," she said. The student who has a career plan would have to wait to begin his or her major course work and take the broad-based classes required by the program, Whiting said.

She thinks the university is looking for a way to standardize general education by pushing people through more quickly and will be lowering the quality of classes and limiting choices in the process.

Whiting is critical of lumping all students together in order to eliminate deficiencies of some. She said the university needs to better advise and serve these students and thinks the core proposal will only

create more problems.

At the first forum, Michael Gottfredson, vice provost of undergraduate education, said the core curriculum would help streamline general education throughout the university and make changing majors easier.

Whiting also questioned why other public institutions have not adopted such a system. At the first forum, Columbia University was identified as having a similar program and the University of California at Irvine was noted as having a similar program in the humanities only.

Gottfredson said the proposal is "a bold vision" for the university and is being watched by peer institutions.

Abraham said the forums were successful in detailing the proposal and allowing students to give their input.

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