Gen-ed requirement reform needed

The University of Connecticut is evaluating its General Education (Gen-ed) requirements that were introduced in 2005 by the University Senate, according to The Daily Campus' Sten Spinella in a story published on Feb. 24.

The University Senate consists of 91 university members, 72 of which are faculty, three administrators and nine members from the professional staff, as well five undergraduates chosen by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG.) The Senate Executive Community (SEC) made a provision in the original requirements that mandated an assessment of the system after ten years, which is currently being spearheaded by Associate Professor of Linguistics, Jon Galejewski.

Current Gen-Ed requirements comprise of six credits from each of the content areas: Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Science and Technology and Diversity and Multiculturalism. There are also additional requirements including a minimum of three Q courses, which is fulfilled by a quantitative course such as general chemistry, physics or math. Another requirement of students is taking a mandatory science and technology course that includes a laboratory section.

Once the review is complete, hopefully the University Senate will find the need for reform in the general education requirements. The system’s goal to provide a broad and liberal education shows a fundamental flaw of an idealistic education standard set in an increasingly consumerist reality that gears students to utilize higher education as a means to an end.

Granted, this goes against the scholarly attitude that the university is trying to imbue, it is the product of social change. Class traditions of the past were framed by the scope of knowledge an individual was able to provide in order to substantiate their status. However, present day allows the status of an individual to be based on the depth, rather than breadth, of intellect pertaining to their profession.

The collective attitude surrounding the general education classes alludes to the failure of the system. The university offers a narrow range of mostly 1000-level courses in topics that students do not find pertinent to their life plan.

More often than not, the search for a gen-ed class turns students to online resources such as RateMyProfessor, a website that briefs the students on the everything from the difficulty of the class to the teaching style of the professor. Often times, the class ends up being the first to be skipped while allowing the student the overt pleasure of still keeping an A with no exertion required.

The University Senate needs to reconsider the current economic and employment climate when faced with an opportunity to restructure the requirements. While gen-ed classes do give students a necessary well-rounded education, while also providing a digression from their typical schedule weighted with classes of similar focus, they also need to evolve into courses that students choose to take rather than be seen as a cumbersome requirement by the university in order to attain a degree.