Disappointe with Williams classes in the way they DO NOT fulfill D and W requirements
OK so I am going to start at Williams this fall.
I am already planning my classes given the curriculum requirements and the available Catalog for 2012-2013. The thing that frustrates me the most is how there is no logic for when a course fulfill the Diversity (D) or the Writing Intensive (W) requirement.
Examples for the D requirement: if you take Chinese or Japanese, it fulfills the D requirements. However, if you take Arabic, German, French, Italian, Spanish, etc. it does not. Also, many 100-level AFR and AMST courses fulfill the D requirement, but no 100-level LATS course do???
I want someone to tell me why a course such as “Looking at Jazz” count for both D and W, while “Migrants at the Borders: Comparative Middle Eastern and Latin American Cultural Studies” counts for none of these.
What I feel is that there is a double standard here. I am just wondering if it is possible to argue with the “powers to be” at Williams to get the D requirement fulfilled if I take, say, Arabic.
Why not write Dave Johnson, the Dean of First-years and ask him for the rationale--and then please share it back here...I bet you are right-- there is no internal logical consistency. Of course, whether Dean Johnson will admit that, is a completely different issue entirely...
Aw, those zany course titles make me nostalgic for the times I went through the catalog with my son. I was definitely jealous.
By all means talk to your advisor. Don't be confrontational, just ask for a waiver. Next year after you've completed the courses, you can write a letter to the Record. For now, keep your appeal low key and personal.
My son found it was fairly effortless to get a rule bent here and there when it made sense. These people want to help you.
I'm a student here and have been researching the EDI (D) requirement for quite some time. What it comes down to is this: the professors have to propose for it to be an EDI course, and some don't want their courses to be marked as EDI because they want people who are genuinely interested in the subject, not just there to fulfill a requirement. While I don't think this concern is particularly valid, some professors do hold that view. In addition, some wish to opt out because there is some extra discussion that goes along with being an EDI course and some profs would also prefer to look at the material in a much less globalized context. So a prof might prefer to talk about one thing in depth rather than relate the issues discussed in a global setting, as they deem it more interesting and intellectually rigorous if students can focus in more on a very specific subject.
So, basically, it comes down to instructor choice. That's all the really matters, so even if a course looks like it should fulfill the requirement, it won't because the profs aren't comfortable with it.
I see your points, Ephinephrine... I (also?) do not think that letting it to be the instructor's decision is the best approach. As you mentioned, Professors may use the requirement to manage enrollment, which is clearly non justifiable.
The way I see it, the college made an institutional decision to have D and W requirements. The ultimate objective of these requirements is to help students to acquire better Writing skills and learn more about diverse cultures. The organization has to live and own its own decisions. Whenever students take courses that genuinely accomplish the writing and/or diversity objectives, it has to be recognized. If professors end up using D/W requirements to manage enrollment, they are deviating from the original intent.
I am glad you recognize that this reason is not genuine: "some [professors] don't want their courses to be marked as EDI because they want people who are genuinely interested in the subject, not just there to fulfill a requirement." What Williams is not recognize is that students may enroll on courses that they are not genuinely interested because of the W/D requirements. Without those, no student would enroll in a course they are not interested.
So my view is that either they abolish the W/D requirement, so that students can take the courses they are genuinely interested, or they grant W/D credit to all courses that have writing/diversity on it, so that students can take the course they are genuinely interested among those that are W/D. The half-baked situation that is now is less than ideal.
To make my view clearer:
Suppose there are courses A and B.
Some students like A and some like B.
If there is no requirement, or if both fulfill the requirements, students would only take the courses they are genuinely interested: those who like A enroll at A, those who like B enroll at B.
If, however, requirements are in place, and only course A fulfills the requirements, then those who genuinely like A take A, while those who genuinely like B may enroll in both B and A (the former because they like it, the latter to fulfill the requirements).
If you are a current student at Williams, it would be nice if you could alert the people in charge of academics that this can be an "issue" for students.
I am a college professor. The running of a college is not as straight forward and logical as you imagine. Yes, a college like Williams wants its students to be happy, but the college also wants its faculty to be happy. The students leave after four years; the faculty does not.
I am not speaking of Williams, but of colleges I've taught at. There are turf wars, institutional needs, a host of issues that don't involve students' well being.
The W and D assignments may be irrational and annoying to you, but you'll get through it. I know that when I mentioned this thread my S, Williams '11, said that he is really grateful for some of the courses he took to meet distribution requirements.
The world is not a very rational place, and Williams will probably be less rational that you would wish. You can try to fix it, sure, but some things will just be beyond your control.
Inpersonal, there has been a ton of debate around these issues. Suffice it to say the following: the professor's views of the subject will affect the class. So, some deem it more appropriate to have their course not fulfill the EDI requirement. Also, the requirement came about because several students were unhappy with the way Williams educates its students (being that at the time, you could go through here and not have to pay attention to any diversity around you). That's a privilege, and one that many students here (myself included) do not enjoy. To be honest, there will almost certainly be a requirement about these issues - although the EDI is up for review next year - as not to have one would be alienating for many students on campus. Also, it's not very helpful to force profs to teach courses in ways they are not interested in teaching them. All in all, I'm extremely proud to say that Williams really cares about its students enough to forgo some logical consistency for the further education and emotional benefit of its students.
Of course, these are very complex issues, and when you come to campus, I highly encourage you to make your voice heard to try to enact the change you would like to see at Williams.
I just want to make it clear that I do see the value of the W and D requirements.
What I agree less is that in the way it is now, one may decide to not take a course that essentially has writing or diversity in it because the professor decided not to grant the D/W requirement and may need to enroll in another less desirable course just to get the W/D requirement.
For instance, one may decide to take Japanese/Chinese instead of Arabic/Spanish just because of the D requirement. To me, all of these languages should meet the D requirement.
Yes, I perfectly understood your position already. However, as pointed out, the logical inconsistencies and what you want will not rule the day here.
The solution is to take the language you want to study and choose another course to meet the requirement.
I thought the course my son took was completely ridiculous in meeting a diversity requirement in his case, but it fulfilled the institutional requirement so he took it. He loved the course and is very happy he studied what he did. However, as you point out, it made no sense.
If it makes you feel any better my D encountered the same issue at her institution.
Get over yourself! If you don't like it, go somewhere else. Otherwise, part of growing up is working within the parameters that you are given. Maybe you can find effective ways to become an agent of change, but not by whining and complaining about how things are not fair. That is never a good strategy and just makes you sound entitled.
The way I see it, posting here is a way of doing something. In this way, the school can see that there are consequences to their actions that go beyond the school's borders, thus they may think twice before enacting rules that impact students. I may do more after I join the group in the fall. Perhaps if you believe this issue as a little bit of merit, you could do somethink by sending an email to academic administrators that say "hey, look, people are talking about this on College Confidential".
I know it is not easy when someone criticizes an institution we love, but your retaliatory comment does not help in protecting Williams image. On the contrary.
This is possibly the most ridiculous thread / post I have seen here in quite awhile. Williams professors and registrars office know far better than a high school senior does about what is planned and offered. You come across as confrontational and rude. You don't know everything...
As stated by other posters in this thread, some times the school ends up enacting requirements that are suboptimal from the students’ standpoint, even though the requirements serve some professors’ and administration’s needs. You are right that college officials may know more about the courses that are offered, but a student knows more about his/her course preferences, and may have valid opinions about whether the granting of a particular requirement makes sense or not given the students’ intended major/concentrations.
Regarding whether this thread is ridiculous and/or who is being confrontational, I am comfortable with what I wrote and I am confident eventual readers of this thread will be able to reach their own conclusions.
Inpersonal: I think the problem is that you have your answer and you won't accept it. There are institutional needs that don't always take into account the preferences of students. That may happen a lot. The school may close a cafeteria you love, stop or start a construction project in a way that annoys you, refuse to have a Film Studies Department...an entire spectrum of grievances may arise.
Parents are trying to tell you to chill out a bit. You are not going to dictate Williams' policy. And if every student had strong opinions about what did or did not happen and tried to institute them all, the school would be a mess.
My S ran into some administrative decisions that I considered very unfair and impacted some important things. He dealt with it, took his disappointment and went on.
There is a bit of an obsessional quality here about something that is really quite trivial. It will be possible for you to take the courses you want and meet the requirements, even if they are distributed in an irrational way.
I see no reason for adults to be rude to you, but they are trying to reflect how you manner comes across.
I am a college professor and work with young people, obviously. I do not mean to offend you or hurt or invalidate your feelings. I merely suggest that you tread a little lighter for your own piece of mind.
Williams is a great school but if you go there expecting a rational paradise, you are going to be disappointed.