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Students Praise Proposed Gen Ed, But Some Remain Skeptical

University Hall and other administrative buildings were closed on Monday in honor of Veterans Day.
University Hall and other administrative buildings were closed on Monday in honor of Veterans Day.
By Jonathan G. Adler and Julia E. DeBenedictis, Crimson Staff Writers

Though some undergraduates say they are on the whole satisfied with a new proposal to overhaul the College’s General Education program, others have expressed skepticism and say students were not adequately consulted during the review process.

If implemented, the proposal would attempt to address issues with the current Gen Ed program—deemed “failing on a variety of fronts”—by requiring that students take four classes under new categories, in addition to a quantitative reasoning course and one class in each division of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Some undergraduates said they support the divisional requirement, which would allow students to choose from a broader spectrum of courses not necessarily limited to the Gen Ed categories.

“It seems to me that students will be able to take a wider range of courses to fulfill each of the requirements, which I definitely think is a great idea,” said William A. Greenlaw ’17, an Undergraduate Council representative from Pforzheimer House. “It’s more flexible [for students] to take coursework that they’re interested in.”

According to UC Education Committee chair Scott Ely ’18, he and his colleagues on the committee have been working closely with the faculty members tasked with revamping the program.

“All throughout the process, students have been involved in voicing feedback,” Ely said.

He added that students had the opportunity to attend four town hall meetings held last year on the review, and emphasized continued communication between UC members and Philosophy professor Sean D. Kelly, who chairs the Gen Ed review committee. That committee began its work more than 18 months ago, and has since consulted with the broader FAS faculty to create its proposal.

Some students who are not members of the UC, however, said they felt disconnected from the review process. Jordan M. Donald ’18 said the review seems to be going smoothly, but said he wished students had played a larger role in crafting the proposal.

“As a sophomore it was definitely news to me; it would have been nice to do an entire school poll or something like that,” Donald said. “The town hall meetings are nice but those are hard to get to.”

Though Nora P. O’Neill ’18 also viewed the proposal itself positively, she said she was unaware of any student involvement in the review process.

“I do think that when students aren’t involved in some part... the student experience is missing,” O’Neill said.

Several other students said they were either unaware that new proposals had been made or were unsure how the new program would work if implemented.

Ryan M. Ward ’18 said he does not know if the new program will give Gen Ed a clearer identity. In earlier stages of the review, faculty raised concerns that the current program holds no identity at the College.

“It is hard to say how it will shape up without seeing what the new courses will look like,” said Ward. “I still feel like it’ll still be pretty arbitrary what counts for Gen Ed and what doesn’t.”

Yvenna Chen ’17 questioned the “flexibility” in student course selection that the proposal seems to advocate.

“There are still eight requirements when you break it down," she said. "And it honestly doesn’t sound that different to me."

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FASGen EdFAS AdministrationAcademics

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