For years, students have started their Knox career with the Freshman Preceptorial class (FP), and over the years the class has adapted and changed. This year, we saw the addition of a variety of topics and the removal of the diversity credit in hopes to give professors more freedom in what they teach.
While we have all done our time in FP, it is vital to help fix the class for future students so the same issues are not allowed to fester from year to year. The removal of the diversity credit has sparked a lively email debate with students and faculty, a petition and a forum hosted by the Allied Black for Liberty and Equality on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
While diversity requirements are great and every student should go above and beyond in taking diversity courses, the removal of the diversity requirement in FP should be transferred to another course and not forced back into FP, hurting the improvements that have been made over the past year.
While the discussion of diversity in FP is necessary, it clouds the more important issue: FP needs to return to being vital part of a Knox education.
The former FP style forced professors and students to adhere to a prescribed teaching of diversity. This often stifled the teaching and discussion of diversity instead of benefiting it because many professors were made to teach topics and books that they had no interest in or felt uncomfortable doing. The new system has a greater chance of engaging students and professors in a diversity-based discussion and should be allowed to expand on its own in this direction.
For years, students have not enjoyed FP. This new format allows for more variety in topics and hopefully more enjoyment in the class. While these new options may allow for a more enjoyable class, it should not lose focus on one of the most important reasons for having the class: preparing a student for their college career at Knox.
The biggest focus of FP should be to inform all incoming students of the style of a liberal education and proper writing skills necessary to succeed in college. Too many students end their first terms without having these vital writings skills and proper knowledge of citation, which they will use in most classes. It is also harder to teach these necessities outside of the classroom, while knowledge of diversity can be taught in myriad classes and daily situations.
There needs to be a standardization of writing skills taught in FP. Often, emphasis put on writing varies due to an individual professor’s preference. FP seems to have diminished a standard teaching of writing skills over the past few years and has become too focused on the topic at hand. While the topic variety of the new system is a great benefit, it should not be at the cost of the vital basics that FP should teach new students.
The teaching of proper citation in papers benefits students and teachers and would likely diminish the number of Honor Code violations, as a few cases each year are due in part to a misunderstanding of proper citation.
The solution to the loss of the diversity credit in FP should not be to force the credit back in, but to expand the amount of diversity credits in other classes. This would allow FP to serve the functions that we listed before and allow students to explore diversity classes that better interest them. Certainly this might cause more issues for the tight schedules of many students, but it should bring more benefits in diversity education than forcing it into FP.
Knox is a very diverse campus, and it flourishes because of it. While less diversity education is not the right way to handle this issue, the loss of the diversity credit causes a diversion from the diminishing focus on writing education in FP that has happened over the past few years. While many students may be leaving FP with a strong ability in writing, more and more are leaving it with little improvement from the beginning of the term.