NEWS

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February 18, 2003

News in Brief

Sociology dept. revamps honors

The Department of Sociology recently announced adjustments in its polices regarding honors requirements, personal advising, the process of granting waiver for BA theses, and the character of BA seminars for their undergraduate curriculum. The changes, which will be implemented next year, are intended to make the honors designation more discriminating, improve program advising, and cut down on pressure the quarter before graduation.

The honor's prerequisites will change from a general GPA of 3.0 to 3.25 and from a concentration GPA of 3.25 to 3.5. According to Andreas Glaeser, chairperson of the undergraduate sociology program, the GPA changes are in direct response to an increase in grade inflation.

Dan McCormick, a fourth-year in the College concentrating in sociology and the current College Programming Coordinator, believes that the new changes are good and would make receiving honors more meaningful; he also urged other departments to follow suit. "Every department needs to up its standards and requirements," he said.

Fourth-year sociology concentrator Liz Bellis was also supportive of the changes. "I love my major, and I think this will make it an even better and more worthwhile course of study," she said.

In terms of personal advising, the program will hire an additional graduate student as a second preceptor. Each sociology concentrator is assigned to both a preceptor and an individual faculty member to act as program advisors.

Sociology concentrators will still need to write BA papers, regardless of wanting honors credit, though some exceptions will be allowed.

"The BA paper requirement can be waived upon petition if the student has been out of residence for more than a year and could complete graduation requirements at the designation of the dean of students of the College at another institution," Glaeser said.

For those writing BA papers, the BA seminar will begin spring quarter of third year in order to lessen the pressure of fourth year. Many sociology concentrators said that the changes made to the BA seminar will encourage them to start their papers sooner as well as provide more time to develop a better project.

"Starting the BA thesis [in the] spring will give us the summer to do research, which is much more realistic than trying to do it over winter break as many students now do," Bellis said. "It should lead to less stress and better, more fruitful BA writing."

Other changes for the department have been discussed but will not be finalized until March.

--Rebecca Wu

Minority center opens in Harper

The Amandla Student Resource Center, a new site devoted to minority affairs on the Harper Memorial Library mezzanine level, opened today. The opening will be celebrated with a week of evening receptions, speakers, and movies.

"The space is there to have people from unique backgrounds get together and talk," said Enrique Gomez, a third-year in the College and president of Student Government.

In addition to serving as a meeting place for students with movies and discussion series, the center will function as the office for the Collegiate Mentorship program and provide space for minority-focused student groups to meet.

"I don't see it as filling a void in minority resources, but as an asset," said Susan Art, dean of students in the College.

The Harper mezzanine previously served as a general student lounge with vending machines. Plans to turn it into a minority resource center have been in development since last year.

The center was developed by the Office of the Dean of Students and the Office of Minority Student Affairs' (OMSA) student advisory committee.

"It is a very, very important first step in helping our students," said Steve Klass dean of students in the University. "It's a step toward us doing more for minority students, but it has to be part of a larger pronged approach both in recruitment and retention."

Although the resource center's programming will be handled by OMSA, it is not exclusively for minority students.

"It will provide...resources to students of color but it's open to all students," said Bill Michel, assistant vice president for student life.

The name Amandla, chosen by the OMSA student advisory committee, means "power" in Zulu.

"[The name] seems like it was appropriate because we hope it is a space that is empowering to students," Art said.

Opening activities for this week, featuring movies and popcorn, will give students a taste of activities to come. University administrators will lead the receptions and answer students' questions from 4:00-5:30 each evening.

--Molly Schranz