12 October 2010

Where did faculty oversight go?

I'm worried by the development of this idea of "service" credit classes (see the proposal for the new ULRs) for a number of reasons.

Reason 1 --- we're being asked to take on a responsibility (the development of a sense of "community" and an understanding of the value of "service") that really belongs with the parents, churches, and other civic organizations.

Reason 2 -- I've seen how WSU integrates new ideas into the curriculum --- and it's frequently a sloppy job. Lots of promises about how great this will be --- but let's get real --- big pieces of the undergraduate curriculum are taught by temporary faculty. This is just ONE more thing that we'll have on our checklist to do.

Reason 3 -- As a regular volunteer for several local social service organizations, I promise you --- students doing this kind of service will inundate the limited social services of the community, all creating havoc as they try to get their mandatory hours of service done for some class --- possibly a class which has no connection whatsoever to the service organization they are "helping." JUST THIS WEEK, I had to help a coordinator of a service I assist with to find "placements" for 20 students each of whom had to do 5-10 hours of service for various classes. Can you spell MAKE WORK? That is exactly what we did. Frankly, we don't need their help that badly.

Reason 4--- And this is the one that should bother you --- who is going to oversee this service credit requirement? The Center for Civic Engagement seems like the logical possibility --- but I can't see any direct tenured faculty oversight of this program. And I REALLY don't want WSU to invest in some major curricular change without a tenured faculty person there to directly oversee it and fight for it. Otherwise, it smacks of yet one more misguided curricular effort being sent our way by an administration that thinks it's okay to gut the Gen Ed requirements and fill them with WHAT?

Liz Siler

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