Repeatability restrictions proves hard on arts classes

Allan Kew, Staff member

DVC’s new policy on repeatability is causing frustration and confusion in the music, art and drama departments.

While the policy change was announced in 2012, it took effect this past academic year.

Previously, many of the three departments’ classes could be repeated by students who wanted to improve their skills. This year, the departments had to reorganize their course structures into families of tiered courses that can only be taken once.

While the system changes were known to administrators and professors for at least an entire year, students have been faced with challenges they did not fully expect.

Music department chair Bret Peppo noted that students in skill-building courses like piano, guitar and vocal are some of the most affected.

“Instead of taking the time where they need to be the best, now they’re going to have to go one, two, three, four in order,” he said. “Everybody’s different. Some people, that might be fine; some are not going to be ready. Basically, you’re cutting out the lifelong learners.”

Peppo also fears that the new limit of taking four courses within a designated family will exclude some students.

The course family system dictates related courses that are organized into groups of four. These groups contain entire sections of departments, encouraging specialization and forced focus on specific course directions.

However, when four courses within a single family are taken, the family is closed and the student may not register within any of the prescribed course family sections. That leads to a perception that students have a lessened to diversify their studies in a given field.

Art department chair Kristen Koblik said the repeatability restriction “is really geared towards getting students in and out of community college.”

Students moving through the college on a rapid schedule may not suffer directly, she said. “But they are suffering indirectly because repeatability is cutting out a lot of the students who are doing this for the general love of art. … I think that impoverishes the atmosphere of classes.”

However, Beth McBrien, department chair for drama, emphasized that while the transition for older students would be difficult, new students would be faced with more opportunities in a newly organized system.

McBrien believed that drama had not been negatively affected in a large degree, as the department’s students typically have a high transfer rate. She thinks that this is a transitional challenge, and will be something that would only be temporarily problematic.

As Peppo declared, “you’re always learning something new, and you’re building on what you know.”