Fewer units needed for graduation

Yan Wing Ruby Lo

DVC transfer students will be more likely to graduate with an associate of arts degree under a proposed change in General Education requirements approved by the faculty.

The new GE pattern for the A.A. degree – written by Merv Maruyama of the counseling department – requires a minimum of 21 units, down from the current 26.

It was selected from among five proposals in a facultywide vote last month and could take effect as early as fall semester 2009, if approved by the governing board.

The new pattern decreases the requirement in social and behavioral Sciences from two courses to one and eliminates the current requirement of a class in interpersonal relationships.

In his written rationale, Maruyama said DVC’s current GE pattern is a disincentive to get an associate’s degree.

“Upon discovering that they can transfer without it, most students choose to do just that,” he wrote.

But that trend could be reversed if more students discovered they could get the associate’s degree without taking many more classes, Maruyama added.

The new pattern is based on the IGETC, the requirements for transfer to a University of California campus.

As an alternative to their No. 1 choice, the DVC faculty also chose a plan written by Bruce Koller that would allow students the option to use IGETC or CSU requirements to fulfill DVC’s GE pattern.

Although Koller’s proposal requires a change in board policy to coincide with language of Title 5 in the state Education Code, it would not affect Contra Costa and Los Medanos colleges’ GE patterns, because they already meet Title 5’s minimum requirements.

Faculty Senate President Laurie Lema declined the Inquirer’s interview requests due to her packed schedule.

Ray Goralka, who coordinated the process for the Senate, said Lema will meet with various areas on campus this month to make up an implementation plan.

Goralka said it cannot happen until at least fall 2009, because the college catalogue or 2008-2009, the official document for student reference, has already been published.

Chemistry Department Chair Tish Young said the physical science and engineering faculty worked hard to get the GE pattern so all transfer GE courses would count for DVC A.A./A.S. degree.

“Many of us didn’t understand the historical reasoning for not allowing a GE course that could be used for GE for your BS at a university to count for a DVC degree.” Young said in an email interview.

Ted Walker, a member of the physical sciences and engineering faculty, said every eligible student should be encouraged to apply for an A.A. or B.S. degree.

An A.S. degree provides students “with that proof of academic achievement that they might need should they not complete their four year degrees,” he said.

Donna Wapner, Faculty Senate representative and health sciences professor, said students in the 37.5-unit vocational addiction studies program will be able to get their A.S. degree with 60 units and may have more room for an elective.

But Lee Rode, a psychology professor, did not favor the change, saying the current GE meets the 9-unit social science requirement for UC’s and CSU’s.

“Students will have to pay attention and be sure to voluntarily take elective courses in the social and behavioral sciences,” he said, “so they don’t come up short in that area when they try to transfer.”

Students seem to favor the new GE pattern.

Veronica Rodrigues, a second-year psychology major, who also looks to transfer, said she hasn’t considered getting an associate degree because the current GE pattern does not offer classes that interest her.

“Definitely.” says Rodrigues when she heard of the new IGETC-aligned pattern.

Sociology major Jonathon Stewart, who is both graduating from DVC and transferring this fall, said the current GE pattern is “not too hard”.

Upon learning of the new pattern, he said, “That would be easier. A lot more people would get an AA degree.”