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Meeting Provides Student Voice Outlet

On the evening of Oct. 10, Student Government Association hosted a town hall meeting for students. The discussion centered on the Institutional Planning and changes to the general education curriculum to be implemented in the fall of 2013.

Ben Varnum ‘13, President of SGA, welcomed students before introducing the speaker for the evening, Toni Holbrook, Assistant Provost. Students were briefed on the details of the Institutional Planning by Holbrook, who indicates the change “lines up with the reaffirmation of colleges for 2013; this will get us through affirmation.”

Focusing on the primary changes Rollins will undergo, Holbrook gave students an overview of the “thematic clusters” that the general education curriculum will center around, and the reduced number of credit hours for graduation; the changes will “streamline pathways to success,” said Holbrook.

Following Holbrook’s presentation, the meeting opened up for questions: one of the main concerns raised was the decision to reduce the number of credit hours required for graduation.

“Our courses are more vigorous,” Holbrook explained, “and we’re only losing three or four courses from the reduction.”

Another concern that was expressed was regarding transfer students: “we will have to find a way to include classes [the transfer] has taken from the previous institution into the new general education curriculum,” Holbrook explained “the transfer situation is very complicated.”

Pervasive career planning, part of the changes for fall of 2013, drew concern from the crowd, as it appeared to contradict the mission statement of liberal arts education.

Pervasive career planning is “starting from the day you get here, planning a vision and objectives to fit your career goal.”

The idea disputes the aim of liberal arts education: exploring a variety of fields to achieve a well-rounded education. Holbrook, however, reminded students that “plans are written in pencil,” meaning, each students’ vision and academic objectives are developmental and will evolve throughout their academic careers.

During the question-answer segment of the meeting, Holbrook sent a ripple of whispers through the crowd when she revealed that students currently enrolled at Rollins will not be part of the new general education curriculum or be affected by the reduced number or required credit hours.

The Student Government Association ensures that the “student voice is represented in all governance decisions of the college,” said Varnum.

With a decision as pivotal as completely transforming the general education curriculum, SGA felt “giving a chance for students to openly voice their opinion is essential,” according to Varnum.

“We represent not only the students here now, but students in the future,” commented Alex Daubert ‘15, Vice President of SGA. This notion initiated the planning of the town hall meeting for students.

Varnum ensures “each item discussed and question posed was noted and will be incorporated into the discussion of the Institutional Plan with the Board of Trustees and the administration of the college.”

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