Dave (DOC)

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I'd like to submit the following comments on:

Senate Referral GE-005-089: Use Completion of Basic
Military Training toward Satisfaction of Area E

There are very few senate referrals that ever raise my
hackles, but this is one that I find particularly
disturbing. By allowing a select group of students to
substitute a non-academic "life experience" for required
coursework, we will simultaneously degrade the education
and degree we offer those students, discriminate against
other students, and undermine the academic integrity of Cal
Poly Pomona. This referral is a bad idea that puts us on a
slippery slope that erodes the value of the education and
degrees we offer.

I whole-heartedly agree that we should be a veteran
friendly campus, and do all we can to facilitate the
education and graduation of military veterans. Our society
and university has an obligation to help veterans achieve a
university education, earn a degree, and make the
transition from military to civilian life. There are many
ways to do this, such as establishing special financial aid
programs, a veteran's center on campus, and counseling and
peer mentoring services.

I also agree, based on my own classroom experience with
veteran students, that they are typically exemplary
students and are a positive influence on the learning
environment and their classmates. But, this should not be
used as an excuse to grant them preferential treatment when
it comes to meeting academic degree requirements.

I think that it is a serious mistake to grant one group of
students the exclusive right to substitute a "life
experience" for an academic requirement. We are an
accredited public university, and we have established our
degree requirements through accepted academic practices for
a specific reason - to provide students with a high-quality
education and a respected academic degree based on vetted
university coursework.

Allowing some students to substitute non-academic "life
experiences" for the GE Area E requirement puts us on a
slippery slope. Why then should we not allow other students
to meet this requirement with other types of related
activities/experience? For example, there are many other
groups that receive rigorous and substantial
training/experiential learning on par with the military,
such as law enforcement, emergency responders, Peace Corps,
Outward Bound, collegiate and professional athletes,
clergy, community activists, and leaders of school, church,
and community groups/organizations.

And, what about other substantial life experiences gained
through non-organized activities that mesh with GE Area E,
such as parenthood, living abroad, home ownership,
homelessness, poverty, prison, disability, disease, and
victimization from crime, discrimination, accident,
disaster, or war. These are all substantial life
experiences that meet the spirit of GE Area E by promoting
"lifelong understanding and self development", but which do
not involve university coursework.

Approving this referral would also threaten to unravel all
of the hard work we have done to develop the GE Area E
First Year Experience courses. It seems to me that veterans
entering the university are exactly the kind of students
who would benefit most from the First Year Experience
courses by being introduced to and immersed in the culture
of their chosen academic discipline. If we grant this group
special privilege to bow out of the Area E courses, then we
have to open this option up (and advertise it!!) to all
students for all appropriate "life experiences". This will
undermine the whole purpose of the First Year Experience
courses and of GE Area E in general.

I think our approach has to be "All or Nothing". If we want
to remove academic standards from GE Area E, then we
shouldn't discriminate, and we should open this up to
include all life experiences and activities that engender
"lifelong understanding and self development". Otherwise,
we should uphold our academic standards and restrict this
requirement only to university coursework for ALL STUDENTS!

I can't support this referral and will vote against it.


Jeff Marshall
Senator, College of Science

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