SGA discusses issues regarding General Education Model

Professor Jesse Marcum discusses the General Education model at SGA Nov. 12. (Kathleen Moore / THE GATEPOST)

SGA welcomed Jesse Marcum, professor of chemistry and food science, to speak on issues relating to the current General Education model and requirements at Framingham State.

Marcum gave an overview of the current General Education model. He explained the process of having it reviewed and approved, as well as the significance of the domain model. 

The initial review was prompted by Dr. Linda Vaden-Goad, the former provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “That came to governance two years ago,” he said.

He also discussed the purpose of general education in college curricula because he found many students may overlook the importance of the model.

Danielle Shaw, outreach and events coordinator, said, “I was shocked that I had to take 10 classes that I either wasn’t going to be interested in, or that I wasn’t going to learn anything from. 

“In my other classes I’ll hear things that were in that gen ed, so I do understand the need for a gen ed system,” she said.

Olivia Beverlie, student trustee, discussed the possibility of incorporating Open Educational Resources (OER) in general education courses.

OERs are publicly available, free resources that openly licenced for use in teaching and learning. 

Beverlie explained, “Having to buy textbooks outside of my major that I probably won’t use again is super frustrating, especially when there are very good [free] resources out there.”

She added, “Not being able to afford a textbook can hinder [student’s] performance in class.”

Beverlie believes gen eds would be a good place to start in incorporating OERs. 

Marcum believes there are some aspects of the model that can be changed at Framingham State. He said it is a matter of figuring out what needs to be changed, and how the process of changing it should happen.

Marcum discussed a workshop he attended during an Association of American Colleges and Universities conference. He said there were various representatives in attendanc from public and private schools from all over the country. 

At the workshop, everyone was given three minutes to draw their school’s general education program on a half-sheet of paper. “My drawing was a shoe with a shoehorn and trying to get everything to fit,” said Marcum. 

He said he thought he would be the only one with an imperfect drawing. However, there were several others with drawings depicting the challenges they faced in their own general education programs as well, he said.

“General education is a really, really tough thing. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no general education model is perfect,” Marcum added.

Students also discussed struggles they have with the domain system and DegreeWorks.

Senator Matty O’Sullivan said, “One of the things that I’ve noticed in domains is that they’re numbered. Basically, my thing was that sometimes, when I’m scrolling through, I’ll pick the class that’s in the wrong domain just because of the numbering system, and I feel like if we could just change it to a single number, it would be a lot easier to find the classes.

“That kind of adds to the confusion of the layout,” he added.

Matty Bennet, president of SGA, described an issue with the domain system on DegreeWorks, saying “you only get a very small section of what falls under that domain.

“It’s not a comprehensive list of what is in that domain, it’s just whatever the registrar – whatever office puts for that domain – that’s on your DegreeWorks screen,” he added.

To this, Marcum replied, “How many people read the course catalog?”

Many SGA senators said they were unaware of the catalog’s existance.  

Marcum said, “I make a conscious effort to bring up the catalog because it does have the full listing of every single course that is on campus – including a listing of all courses in the domain model.” 

He added, “That’s good to know that it’s hard for that information to get out there and that there’s maybe a little disconnect between students [and faculty].”

During open forum, students discussed their concerns with the RamTram and inconsistencies in its schedule.

Secretary Lexi Kays said, “I left the Athletic Lot around noon to park my car, and the RamTram didn’t even stop. …  If my class wasn’t pushed back a half hour that day, I would have been late to class.

“I need the RamTram for when I’m doing my field study – it’s important to me,” she added.

Senator Jake Maradian said, “I had to Uber my way to the commuter rail because [the RamTram] doesn’t do it until 5 o’clock, and I don’t think that’s early enough.” 

He explained even after calling the Student Transportation Center and asking if they could take him to the commuter rail, he was denied.

During his presidential report, Bennet announced as part of SILD’s Giving Tree, SGA will be sponsoring 6-year-old Justin and 11-year-old Sophia this year. “We’re going to bring some joy into Justin and Sophia’s lives,” he said.

Bennet said he encourages other clubs and organizations on campus to reach out and sponsor children in need. There are still many children  who need to be sponsored, he explained.

The Executive Board Member of the Month is SATF Treasurer Driana Lebron. Also, Mariah Farris was elected Senator of the Month.

Senator Krista Jameson was given the “U-Rock” award. The rock is still missing and yet to be found.

[Editor’s note: Evan Lee contributed to this article.]

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