On Wednesday, Feb. 28 and March 2, students, faculty and Academic Senate members attended forums which helped educate those who did not know about Executive Order (EO) 1100. It is an Executive Order from the CSU Chancellor’s Office that forces California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) to change its General Education (GE) curriculum.
Michael Scott, chair of the Academic Senate and the steering committee, started each session by offering background to educate students, faculty, staff and community members on this complex issue. It informed the audience that classes will be going from four units to three units under any new GE model; therefore, making class times shorter.
Currently, most of our university requirements are embedded in GE requirements. However, under these new GE curriculum changes, the Academic Senate needs to rearrange the university requirements under new GE criteria. For example, the Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) falls under A4 in the current GE format. In the new GE criteria, A4 is not allowed. Therefore, the Academic Senate agreed that GWAR can fall under a GE or non-GE course, as part of a new model.
There were up to 19 proposed models. After the Senate vote on the GWAR option, we are down to models 7-19. These models were designed to give us the opportunity to change university requirements if we choose to do so, and to figure out whether or not they should be structured in a GE course. Because of this, faculty and students are questioning whether or not the service learning and language requirements should still be included.
“In the restructuring of the university requirements, we have to think differently about how we integrate these university requirements into our GE curriculum based on our unit structure,” Scott said, as audience members pondered about how the university requirements could possibly change with EO 1100. Models 7-19 were summarized during the two meetings to show everyone all the possibilities in which our university requirements could change, along with our new GE curriculum.
The model that was talked about the most at the Wednesday meeting was Model 14, which requires a lower division service learning course paired with civics, upper division service learning within a student’s major—which could be paired with a GE or non-GE course—and a lower division language requirement that also applies to transfer students earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. This was discussed alongside Model 13, which is similar to Model 14, except it doesn’t require lower division service learning or the language requirement.
In addition to being educational, the forums brought forth the conflicting views among faculty. The contention is mostly around the areas of service learning and language. While there are many professors who are passionate about keeping the language requirement alive, there are also professors who do not think it is necessary to require students to take language courses. The argument is that language classes can prevent students from graduating within four years.
“We have to consider the changes we make to our university requirements. If we are only requiring that 30 percent of students have to fulfill the language requirement, then it is no longer a university requirement,” said Ignacio Navarro, an associate professor who is concerned with the proposed models.
The 30 percent statistic is a rough estimate made by Navarro during the meeting, which represents the students on campus required to fulfill the language requirement. It was proposed that transfer Bachelor of Science students would not be required to have a language proficiency, due to lack of room in their pathways.
“If we are only making 30 percent of our student’s fulfill the language requirement, then what does that say about how the University’s views language? It says it isn’t a priority,” said Rebecca Pozzi, an associate professor for the School of World Languages and Cultures. Pozzi is also concerned about the lack of enforcement for a language requirement in the upcoming models because it would lead fewer students to her department.
“Not to mention the community impact of removing service learning from the curriculum. Students helped 415 different community programs from 2015-2016, which is valued at over $200,000 worth of work in our surrounding community. What do we tell our community when we suddenly take that away from them?,” said Deborah Burke, associate professor at the Service Learning Institute.
Burke is concerned that by removing the lower division service learning requirement from the curriculum, the community will be severely impacted in a negative way. Other professors pointed out that it is only now that universities in other states are integrating a service learning aspect into their curriculums, and how our university would be working against progress by removing the lower division service learning requirement.
Although many professors voiced their concerns about the proposed pathways, the unspoken elephant in the room were the jobs at stake. When speaking with Michael Dorsch from Institutional Assessment & Research, it became apparent that if the language requirement is no longer mandated, that many lecturers could lose their jobs.
“I’m not particularly partial to any of the models. We are only here to find how this new change will affect how we do our research,” said Dorsch. He and his colleague attended the forum to find how the new models would affect the way their department determines how much funding each department receives.
Few students attended the forums. This new model decision has an enormous impact on future CSUMB students. With little to no input from current students, there is no certainty the new model will be selected with students’ preferences in mind.
The final decision rests in the hands of the Academic Senate, as they get ready to vote for one of the models. This decision will be made on March 26. For more information on EO 1100, visit the EO 1100 Planning Hub at sites.google.com/a/csumb.edu/eo1100-revised-planning-hub/ or read our previous articles on EO 1100 from our Feb. 15 and March 1 issues.