B.S./B.S.C. core exemption proposal fails

Photo Courtesy calvin.edu

Photo Courtesy calvin.edu

The proposal to grant an exemption from the Persons in Community (PIC) core category and the second year of foreign language to students in Bachelor of Science (BS) and Bachelor of Computer Science (BCS) programs was voted down at this week’s faculty senate meeting.

The proposal failed in a 19-23 vote (with one abstention) after two weeks of discussion.

Several professional programs already have a world language exemption, and the engineering program also currently has a PIC exemption. The proposal cited this precedent as reason for offering the same exemption for BS and BSC programs.

“It’s an easy target,” social work professor Lissa Schwander said of PIC. “Understanding that Calvin will move toward a new core at some point in the near future, I believe targeting particular pieces of the core now will again become precedent for eliminating them the next time.”

Schwander stressed the role that PIC plays in teaching Calvin students how to live in a diverse society:

“[PIC] is the one core category that requires students to think deeply about identity (our own and others’) and how the intersections of identities, race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ability [among others] shape experiences,” she said. “I think we are living in an era where understanding difference and being able to communicate and engage across difference is more important than ever.”

Computer science professor Joel Adams, however, found the result of the vote “disappointing,” as the proposal “was designed to best serve Calvin students by letting [them] change their majors more easily and still complete their degrees in four years.”

Adams sees a “social injustice” in the size of the core that the proposal was intended to help address:

“The current situation privileges students from privileged backgrounds … [who] are more likely to enter Calvin with many core exemptions.”

If approved, Adams said, the proposal would have allowed students with a variety of educational backgrounds more freedom in changing majors while still being able to graduate in four years.

More details and other faculty members’ thoughts about the proposal can be found in our previous coverage (linked above).