By: Heather Berg
Students at Saint Martin’s University received an email toward the end of the summer announcing the 2014/2015 Course Catalog with two distinct changes in general education requirements. For first year students entering Saint Martin’s in Fall 2014, a physical education credit is no longer required and students need a minimum of 120 credits to graduate instead of 128.
The change was first suggested by University faculty, Provost Molly Smith, Ph.D., and Director of the General Education Program Sheila Steiner, Ph.D., were strong advocates.
“In general, a four year degree ought to be the norm,” says Smith, when asked what the motivation was to make the change in credit requirements. “We were trying to balance…national concern for the students graduating in four years and the internal trend of what students were actually doing on campus; how well they were succeeding in graduating in four.”
Although first year students are the only ones who automatically undergo this change, upperclassmen are able to apply for the change of catalog as well. Many students whose curriculum could be altered with this change had positive feedback about the changes.
“The credit requirement [change] itself makes a lot of sense,” says Josiah Dailey, communications major at Saint Martin’s. “It’s nice for others that maybe didn’t have a lot of credit padding.”
Students were also concerned with graduating in four years; a concern shared by the administration when first approaching the catalog change.
“I would hope that part of the reason they changed it was to make it so that students could graduate in four years,” says Sharon Ramella, senior, interdisciplinary studies major.
Some students however, had concerns about how it might affect campus dynamics.
“People could easily use it to say I don’t have to take as many credits now; I can coast’” suggests Hope Chamberlain, a sophomore English major.
Another change made to the catalog, the removal of a physical education credit requirement, was a popular topic of discussion when talking about the University’s curriculum.
“In our catalog the PE requirement wasn’t equally applied,” says Steiner.
Previous course catalogs for the university have specific eligibility for a physical education credit. Students who are over the age of 25 are not required to complete a PE credit nor are students who served in the military or transfer students in some cases.
“It becomes hard to justify having a class in the core if we don’t have a reason for it being there,” expands Steiner.
When students were asked about the PE requirement being removed they had similar emotions to. Steiner and Smith.
“It’s educating the body more than the mind, which is not what most people think of when they think of school,” says Chamberlain.
“I still wish they would keep the PE credit and work on integrating it into the education system,” says Ben Lopez, interdisciplinary studies major. “If students want to be physically active they’ll do it on their own.”
Students and faculty alike agree that physical education, as part of a holistic education, no longer fits in to Saint Martin’s curriculum. The overall minimum credit requirement change is part of a bigger movement in administration, according to Steiner and Smith.
“There’s a lot of pressure for students to be more than just students,” says Steiner, “we’re still in the process of looking at a much larger change.”