April 13, 2011

Student Life Committee discusses academic culture

The Student Life Committee (SLC) continued its conversation Tuesday about the issue of how the culture at Knox treats the necessary balance between academic and extracurricular or “co-curricular” life.

Professor of Mathematics and SLC chair Dennis Schneider has made evaluating this issue a central part of the SLC agenda for the term.

He plans to distribute data from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to the committee so that they can see where Knox fits in with national data.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Schneider started the initial conversation by posing one simple question: “What sort of norm do we expect” in terms of time spent on academics, extracurriculars, leisure and sleep?

The ensuing conversation included mostly personal and secondhand accounts of study and sleep habits from the students on the committee.

Schneider pointed out that the NSSE data on how much time is spent on academics and studying is self-reported by students. Others on the committee said the idea that time spent due to distractions could be included in the data.

Schneider said he recently proposed a new finals schedule which would include two reading days before finals and four days for finals, which would allow for more time to study before finals and more time for professors to read and grade final term papers.

Senate Communications Officer senior Chris Bugajski hoped that this would eliminate the need for night finals, a sentiment which was echoed by others on the committee.

Some mentioned that this would allow for more flexibility for individual students to reschedule finals as necessary to fit their needs. This thread led the committee toward a lengthy discussion about the Honor Code and its shortfalls.

“Having been on Honor Board, I think the way our culture is moving, there are ways that it has to reassess how it does what it does,” Professor of Art Lynette Lombard said.

Junior Sam Frank, who is a member of the Honor Board, said that the Board as a whole is aware of faculty concerns about the Honor Code. He also mentioned that the Knox Honor Code has been submitted to a national organization for review.

The conversation later returned to the issue of how much time students commit to extracurriculars and how getting a job or into graduate school out of college depends on it.

Schneider also mentioned that SLC should soon address the issue of whether Greek students should be allowed to apply for theme housing and, if so, whether they would be allowed to apply under the name of the Greek organization. It is expected that a conversation along those lines will take place both in Student Senate and in SLC, followed by some kind of open forum, before SLC takes action on the issue.

No action was taken during the meeting.

Charlie Megenity
Charlie Megenity (formerly Gorney) is a senior double majoring in political science and economics. He previously served TKS as managing editor and as co-news editor while working as the weekend reporter for The Galesburg Register-Mail. Over the summer of 2012, Charlie interned in Wisconsin with Patch.com, an online hyperlocal news source, where he covered the August 2012 Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting; he will return to Patch during the summer of 2013. He is also the journalism editor for Catch magazine.. Charlie has received three awards from the Illinois College Press Association for newswriting and design, including a first place award for front page layout. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Hazen Kimble Memorial Award in Journalism for a feature story published in The Knox Student. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post.

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