For the first time since the BELL Core reformation proposal in February, students were given the opportunity to gather and ask questions in a structured setting.
On March 16, a BELL Core Reform Student Forum was held in the Janet Ayers Academic Center. At the event co-sponsored by the Student Government Association and the Faculty Senate, students were invited to come learn more about a compromise to the Provost’s original reform suggestions.
“I’m really glad students get the chance to hear what we have to say and weigh in on it,” said the Director of General Education Dr. Noel Boyle, who led the forum.
SGA member Khadija Ali Amghaiab joined the organization specifically because of the proposals to reform the BELL Core, and this was her way of getting more students involved in the discussion process.
“You’re paying for this,” Ali Amghaiab said. “I don’t think students realize how much of a voice they have.”
The compromise reform proposal presented at the forum included more humanities credits than the Provost’s proposals, but there was still enough flexibility to allow students to make their own choices and, hopefully, expand their horizons past just their major, said Boyle.
“The question becomes what happens to those hours,” Boyle said. “It depends on what students do with those hours.”
Student concerns ranged from whether the new flexibility would encourage others to venture into other areas of study to whether or not new students would be more apt to choose classes in newer buildings rather than older ones. Sophomore philosophy major Blake Simmons was concerned fewer required humanities credits would be detrimental to certain degrees Belmont offers.
“It seems it would be an important part of a B.A.,” Simmons said.
One of the main things the new proposal emphasizes is clarity — clarity with credit requirements, clarity in DegreeWorks and clarity in reasoning behind taking certain classes. Because the BELL Core has been around for more than a decade, it’s been subject to small modifications — making it a little hard to understand sometimes, Boyle said.
“The foundation and regular courses would be the same for each student,” Boyle said. “It’s part of your education program all four years.”
Decisions regarding the BELL Core reforms will be made in early April, and the reforms won’t likely be put into effect until the fall of 2018, Boyle said. However, that doesn’t mean current students don’t have a voice.
“If you have concerns, you can email any of us,” said SGA member Sarah Potter. “We need you guys to really speak. Thirty people in SGA doesn’t represent the student body.”
After a successful student forum, the possibility of similar student-focused discussions and involvement opportunities is on the table, said Ali Amghaiab.
“Students seem to be generally concerned about the issues concerning the Provost’s proposal and the BELL Core Committee proposal,” said Ali Amghaiab. “That just shows the importance of the voice of students in this matter, the need to seriously consider the students who will be the most affected.”