“No Professors Allowed”: How General Education is Changing in Berea College

By Lily Barnette and Ülvi Gitaliyev

On the 28th of October, Jared Sipple, a member of the General Education Modification (GEM) Committee, organized an event on campus where students could share their thoughts about Wellness 101 and 102, GSTR courses and other general education classes. The goal of the GEM Committee is to change and improve required courses required for Berea College students, which happens approximately once every decade. While none of the changes decided in the committee will affect students already enrolled in Berea College, students are still encouraged to share their experiences and help improve the quality of education for future students.

Students present at the event spoke about a variety of issues with the current general education curriculum. Many expressed their displeasure with how Wellness classes could be triggering to people weight and health issues, as well as how the Pearson’s book used for the class had triggering images of self-harm without any warning.

Developmental math courses were also criticized as many students felt that the classes did not correspond to their majors or were on topics students already knew. The fact that developmental math courses did not provide any credit also displeased a lot of students.

Lastly, GSTR, especially GSTR 110 and 210, were discussed. Some students felt that professors had too much power over the scope and topic of the two courses. As a result, students felt that they were not properly taught how to write and research college level essays and instead focused on the personal topics by the given professor.

Overall, students present hoped that the new generation of Berea College students would not have to go through many of the same struggles as they did and could instead focus on the courses they wanted. After the event, The Berea Torch interviewed Jared Sipple about what inspired them to work in the GEM Committee.

“I was in a GSTR 210 course and I was writing my research paper on religious trauma and dealing with religious trauma on a campus with a religious identity. I just found a lot of issues on campus regarding Christianity and how it conflicted with other other values of the college.”

Sipple also spoke about how the event helped them better gauge student opinion.

“There were definitely some some new ideas that I encountered today. I really encourage people think in concrete ways, not just what you dislike about a certain aspect, but what would what would you like it to be? What would you like to see implemented in the future, whether that’s a course or an activity? Because like I said earlier, it’s so easy to say that something is not working or to come to the understanding that you dislike something. It’s a lot more difficult to think of the ways to remedy those problems, but that’s how we’re going to find solutions by thinking outside of the box, by being creative and finding some joy and inquiry and creativity regarding what we want to see out of this new general education requirements.”

If you want to tell the GEM Committee about your thoughts on Wellness, GSTR, the swim requirement, convocations or any other aspect of general education, you can email Jared Sipple at sipplej@berea.edu!

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