Senate hears reports on undergrad education, Marguerite changes

Nov. 10, 2010, 2:03 a.m.

The ASSU Undergraduate Senate heard presentations Tuesday from Parking & Transportation Services (P&TS) on proposed Marguerite changes and the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford (SUES). The Senate approved a bill creating the volunteer position of an economic policy consultant to serve the needs of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford

Senate hears reports on undergrad education, Marguerite changes
The undergraduate senate listens to a presentation from a PT&S representative about the second round of proposed Marguerite route changes (JONATHAN POTO/The Stanford Daily).

Sue McConnell, biology professor and co-chair of the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford, began her presentation by describing the work of the task force thus far, including dorm visits to gather student opinion and its wide parameters.

McConnell stressed that the task force, currently in its second year, is able to examine undergraduate education conceptually. She urged the senators, “Think as though anything is possible…forget about the current requirements.”

“For you guys, liberal education is not a luxury at all — it is a necessity,” McConnell continued, describing the basic questions the task force is asking concerning whether liberal education is a privilege.

Students today will have “to navigate a terrain more complicated than the world of my parents,” McConnell said.

McConnell outlined the task force’s overlapping aims for undergraduate education: student “acquisition and creation of knowledge,” development of “intellectual and practical skills,” education toward “living a creative, responsible and reflective life” and “integration and synthesis of knowledge, skills and abilities across disciplines.”

Following the presentation, senators had the opportunity to propose changes and ask questions.

Robin Perani ’13 spoke in favor of “more prestige” around interdisciplinary studies. “There’s a stigma,” Perani said.

“If you’re talking to the d-school, then you’re on the right track,” Perani added, commenting on the Institute of Design at Stanford’s effort to teach hard skills with humans in mind.

“How should we balance requirements versus choice?” asked McConnell.

“Choice is always good,” Kamil Saeid ’13 later responded.

When asked about the Introductory to Humanities program (IHUM) for freshmen, McConnell declined to comment on specific programs due to ongoing reviews.

“We don’t want to throw out babies with bath water if they’re working really well,” McConnell said. “We’ve heard a lot about IHUM from [students] …we’ve heard that loud and clear.”

Stewart Macgregor-Dennis ’13 offered his advice: “Look at the SLE [Structured Liberal Education] model — I think it works.”

The Senate also discussed issues concerning general education requirements, basis of grading and unit inequity across majors.

Marguerite Changes

The Senate heard from Ward Thomas with Transportation Operations at P&TS concerning proposed changes to the Marguerite bus system.

The proposed changes would affect routes Line A, Line B, Line C, the Medical Center Loop (MC) and the Midnight Express, most notably no longer stopping at the California Avenue Caltrain station, though service will run to California and El Camino.

“Every [Caltrain] that stops at California Avenue stops at Palo Alto,” Thomas said, adding later that people “seem to understand why we’re doing it and that they can still get from California Avenue to campus.”

Under the proposed changes, tentatively set for the third week of January, the Midnight Express route would run in both directions.

“The biggest drag about the Midnight Express is that it only goes one way,” Thomas said.

The changes would also involve a revamping of Marguerite signage. Thomas added, “We’re going to try to make it easy.”

Bills and Previous Notice

The Senate created a volunteer position of economic policy consultant Tuesday. The position will be re-evaluated during winter quarter. On previous notice for next week, the Senate discussed bills to allow for flexibility of attendance of committee meetings and a bill to mandate full attendance at Senate meetings by altering the method of roll call.

The Senate discussed funding for Big Game week but opted to wait to hold an e-mail vote after gathering more information. An e-mail vote will also occur by 7 p.m. Wednesday for this week’s funding bills, due to illness of the Committee chair.

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