Volume 93, Issue 78

Thursday, February 17, 2000


White Paper talks reveal concerns

Breast cancer study pays off

Research projects rake in funds

Harris speaks out on gun control

City task force targets housing

Gas prices lead to finger pointing

Internet use decreases social interaction


Caught on campus

White Paper talks reveal concerns

By Aaron Wherry
Gazette Staff

The results of two open meetings held last week made it clear reforming Western's undergraduate program was not a simple black and white issue.

During meetings on Feb. 10 and Feb. 15, the White Paper, a proposal to reform the undergraduate program, was debated by faculty, students and the Western community.

The report, generated by the Senate Committee on Academic Policy and Admissions, called for a number of changes to the undergraduate program at Western. If passed by Senate, it would create a Harvard University-style core program, which would require students to take classes in seven different fields of study.

Bernd Frohmanna professor in the faculty of information and media studies, said he was most concerned with the monetary resources required to implement such changes and ensure quality courses.

Chemistry professor Colin Baird said he felt a lot of the proposed changes were positive, especially the idea of a four-year general degree. However, Baird added he was worried about a few details. "Imposing this on everyone sounds too drastic an idea," he said. "I would suggest they talk to more students, prospective students and prospective employers to see if they think this is a good idea."

SCAPA chair John Thorp defended the ideas within the proposal and the process by which it was being considered. He explained the procedure was still at the revision stage. "This is not definitely going to be enacted," he said.

Many of Western's departments were apprehensive about eroding their areas of concentration to make room for core courses, but Thorp said these worries, as well as all concerns expressed at the two meetings, would be taken into account. He added many of the questions raised by the surrounding community were based on misinterpretations of the proposal.

David Bjerkek, a second-year biology student, expressed concern for the Harvard-style system. "You go through a general program in high school and then you specialize when you get to Grade 12 and OAC. [With core requirements] you'll have to go back to a general program when you're just starting to specialize."

Yet, second-year biology student Karen Miyauchi said she supported such changes and added they would produce a more well-rounded student. "I think it's a good idea. I think people specialize too early and if you never learn to write an essay or work with numbers, you might not be as prepared for the world after university."

Thorp said he would be accepting recommendations on the proposal until March 13.

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