The Jury Is Definitely Out
National media attention and stepped-up student opposition efforts energized the controversy surrounding the Core Curriculum last week, but a Crimson poll of senior Faculty members on the issue wound up raising more questions than it answered.
With a final vote on the core possibly as soon as next month's Faculty meeting, those polled appeared sharply split on the issue. One hundred of the 198 respondents who had an opinion said they do not plan to vote for the core in its current form.
The poll confirmed suspicions that senior Faculty are taking sides on the issue according to their respective academic fields.
Professors in Natural Science departments opposed the core by almost a three-to-one margin, while professors in the History, Government and Economics Departments overwhelmingly approved of the plan.
One theory explaining the split maintains that professors in the natural sciences oppose the core because they believe its suggested requirements do not do justice to the "hard" sciences. "I think the Natural Sciences professors don't believe that any core that contains 20 per cent Natural Science requirements is justified in this day and age," Robert V. Pound, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and an opponent of the core, said yesterday.
But James Q. Wilson, Shattuck Professor of Government, and chairman of the Faculty subcommittee that drew up the core requirements, said yesterday he believes professors in the natural sciences oppose the core for different reasons.
Wilson said many Natural Science faculty members believe an introductory core course would not benefit students who lack a strong technical background.
Wilson added that because many students concentrating in Natural Science departments apparently venture into courses outside that area voluntarily, many faculty members in that area believe that course requirements are unnecessary.
Wilson, a strong supporter of the core, expressed confidence that the Faculty would vote to adopt the core. The ambiguous poll results, however lend encouragement to both sides in the debate.