Recently, perceptions of how the College of Literature, Science and the Arts views the Residential College has fueled discontent among some RC students. Although some students appreciate the RC for the close contact between professors and students and the opportunity for interdisciplinary study, students feel the RC is not valued by LSA.
Included in RC students’ disgruntled sentiments are the lack of tenure among RC faculty and the transition to letter grading.
Chuck Goddeeris, an RC junior, said he likes the RC because of the small class sizes and intimate atmosphere, but he feels frustrated by the treatment of the RC by LSA administrators.
“The RC is like the ugly red-headed stepchild of LSA. … The RC needs more control over itself,” Goddeeris said.
RC junior Sarah Tasman echoed Goddeeris’s sentiments.
“(LSA students and administrators) think we’re all hippies and don’t like us because we have individuality,” Tasman said.
RC Director Tom Weisskopf disagreed with the perceptions of students.
“The RC is treated like any other LSA unit,” Weisskopf said.
Rumors that LSA implemented a hiring freeze and budget cuts for the RC are untrue, RC and LSA administration said. In fact, possible University-wide budget cuts for next year have curbed all LSA departmental hiring.
When asked about the lack of tenure among RC faculty, LSA Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert Owen said many are not tenured because the RC is interdisciplinary and only an undergraduate unit.
“However … there are tenure- track faculty who teach in the RC,” Owen said.
Owen also denied rumors of a hiring freeze.
“All LSA have been told that the college cannot fund as many new positions as we would like because of an expected reduction in our state funding,” Owen said.
RC students still remain upset about the recent change in 2001 as grades were added to the traditional written evaluations. The decision to implement grades to the RC’s curriculum has upset some students, while administrators believe the change necessary.
Weisskopf said the grading was implemented after a two-year discussion and committee formation between RC and LSA administrators and RC students.
Grades are necessary because of “increasing demand … for GPAs and grade measures” placed on RC students, Weisskopf said. “Some students are happy, some students are unhappy,” Weisskopf said, emphasizing the ever-present student division on grading.
Owen agreed with Weisskopf’s assessment on the grading change.
“The change to grades plus narrative evaluations was done based upon recommendations from an external review of the RC, and also because a number of government agencies, graduate programs, and agencies that provide scholarships and fellowships demand grades rather than narrative evaluations,” Owen said.
Some RC students feel grades take away the value of the evaluations and force the RC to assimilate to LSA standards. RC senior Joe Mueller expressed his discontent with using grades.
Giving RC students letter grades is a “devaluation of evaluations,” Mueller said. “Generally the sentiment is classrooms are more competitive.”