By Kayla Tucker – Editor-in-Chief
The Academic Governing Council at Grand Rapids Community College met Monday and endorsed the three proposed graduation requirement changes.
The council voted 47-14 to approve the removal of Survey of American Government (PS110) as a requirement, 39-22 to remove the Wellness credit as a requirement and 42-20 in approval of giving students the ability to take either a total of six credits in English or three credits English and three credits Communication.
The vote is now in the process of being sent as a decision paper to Provost Laurie Chesley, who has 10 days to review and respond with approval for the decision or with questions for clarification.
Patti Trepkowski, Associate Provost and co-chair of the subcommittee that proposed the changes, said the representatives in the council would have discussed the proposal with their departments.
“The departments give some direction generally to their representatives,” Trepkowski said. “That, of course, influences their votes.”
English Professor Mursalata Muhammad said she is concerned about the school making a change specific to our campus based on state-level decisions regarding the Michigan Transfer Agreement (MTA).
“I think it shows a lack of depth and understanding the role of higher education versus higher schooling or training,” Muhammad said. “Because to base a two-year college’s graduation requirements on a state level decision that is heavily influenced by political parties willingly gives up the autonomy that an institution of higher learning should have when looking at educating human beings.”
Muhammad referenced when GRCC broke away from the connection with K-12 education to become a separate entity as a community college.
“This process has not been transparent in acknowledging the political nature of these decisions,” Muhammad said. ”When we don’t acknowledge them, that can prevent us from seeing the complexity of what it means to go to an institution of higher education.”
Muhammad asked if GRCC is removing a barrier to obtain a degree, or giving less credit to educating.
“There is a significant difference between holding a degree and being educated,” Muhammad said.
Muhammad made it clear she is not just concerned from her position as an English professor.
“I do not have any allegiance to a particular subject matter,” Muhammad said. “I have an allegiance to educating. This decision does not make my personal job in the classroom any more difficult, it makes educating a whole student holistically, (more) challenging.”
At a GRCC Board of Trustees retreat today, Chesley said she has not received the decision paper yet.
“I have 10 days to respond and I will be timely in that,” Chesley said to the board.
Chesley said she is aware that following the vote there are some professors who are unhappy with the proposal.
“It was a tough discussion on this campus,” Chesley said.
She estimated, if the implementation were to happen, the changes could be reflected as early as next fall. Students already in a degree program or previous catalog will still be held to their original requirements.