Students will now be required to take two diversity-designated (DV) courses to graduate, in lieu of the lost DV component of Freshman Preceptorial (FP).
During the regular faculty meeting on Monday, Feb. 13 a divided faculty body narrowly passed changes to the faculty regulations proposed by Associate Professor of History Konrad Hamilton, who saw the changes as a “conservative” measure to assure students that they have not lost sight of diversity in the curriculum.
“This motion … reaffirms a principle and a practice that we’ve been following for the last ten years,” Hamilton said, noting that he supports the FP experiment. “I don’t think that one issue should be held hostage to the other issue.”
Professor of Environmental Studies Peter Schwartzman spoke in favor of the measure.
“Diversity is different than taking a social science or taking environmental studies,” Schwartzman said. “It’s different, because taking a diversity course and having those conversations … is critical in order to have peace with each other.”
Professor of Chemistry Mary Crawford argued for the motion, saying that though Knox does not have the endowment to give out “fancy scholarships,” the college’s commitment to diversity attracts students and the faculty should reaffirm that idea.
“The country’s demographics are changing,” Crawford said. “And we have to position ourselves so that we can attract the best and the brightest. … We can say to parents and students that we are committed, and that’s something that doesn’t cost any money.”
Not everyone supported this change to the requirement, Professor of Physics Charles Schulz and Professor of Political Science Sue Hulett spoke out against the measure and argued that students should not be overwhelmed with requirements.
“I believe it’s an extra coercion on students to add a second required diversity course,” Hulett said. “I can imagine other equally valuable courses that our students ought to take, such as an ethics course or a political philosophy course, because students ought to understand civil behavior, civic responsibility and good citizenship.”
Professor of Political Science Karen Kampwirth was ambivalent about the proposal from Hamilton. Kampwirth said she asked the students in her courses (which are both DV) about the proposal, and she received an equally ambivalent response.
“The problem that’s presented in the original letter … was about a cultural issue,” Kampwirth said. “It seems to me the tool of curriculum is a hammer, and the cultural problem may need a feather duster.”
The motion passed 39-22, with 64 percent voting for the measure, which needed a minimum of 60 percent to pass. This change will affect students starting with the class of 2016.
Also during the meeting, the Executive Committee (ExComm) presented a proposal for discussion on issues related to class scheduling and overuse of certain periods.
Two different models were presented, both of which are structured similarly. For the most part, they look like the current schedule, with six 70-minute periods. The proposed schedules, though, contain a “common period” every Wednesday during fourth and fifth periods.
The other major difference lies with the seminar, or “s” classes. Instead of having Tuesday-Thursday seminar classes, there would be Monday-Thursday and Tuesday-Friday seminars, thus providing for more class periods overall.
Faculty shared some of their concerns about the models, and Dean of the College Lawrence Breitborde collected them for ExComm to consider. No action was taken with respect to the proposal.