At this month’s CSU Board of Trustees meeting, members will discuss an eliminating the nine upper-division general education classes that some students are required to take before graduating from Cal State Fullerton.
According to a memorandum from the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, Ephraim P. Smith, the issue concerning the elimination of the nine units is meant to take on many goals.
This includes the possibility to alleviate the amount of debt students will carry at the time of their graduation, increase the amount of student access to CSUF for freshman and community college transfers and subject fewer students to “third-tier” tuition fees.
One major talking point of the agenda was to allow more students to attend CSUF since fewer upper-division units means a faster turnaround for graduation.
Michael Uhlenkamp, director of media relations for the CSU Chancellor’s Office, outlined the item as a benefit for both current and prospective students as well as the CSU.
“The idea is that it would provide access for students,” Uhlenkamp said. “There are theoretically more units available to distribute among other students so it would allow us to bring in, potentially, another 12,500 students across the system. I think that is the biggest reason.”
Uhlenkamp also said students would be able to obtain their degrees faster since it would mean fewer classes for some majors.
Acting Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Programs Edgar Trotter, Ph.D., said the government sets a limit to the amount of credit hours that CSUF is allowed to offer and thereby teach.
With the elimination of the nine upper-division GE units, CSUF would be able to admit more students either as freshmen or transfer students.
Trotter said students averaging 15 units or more per semester will not see a noticeable amount of money saved. The elimination of the units would instead be of more help to students who take 14 units or less, since their college career will be spread out over a longer period.
“Once you hit seven (units), it’s the same rate,” Trotter said. “Since (high-unit majors) pay the same rate for eight semesters, there shouldn’t be a net change in cost. There could be because people tend to stretch (their college experience) out… The cost is a function of how fast the student decides to go through the program,” he said.
Trotter added it should cost students less because the high units majors could get through college with fewer units.
Diana Guerin, chair of the CSU Academic Senate, said she is not in favor of the proposal for several reasons, including the restriction of liberal education and possible loss of accreditation for the campus.
“I view it as a reduction in academic quality,” Guerin said. “I do think it reduces the exposure that students get to the areas of liberal education: sciences, humanities and social sciences and basic skills. The reduction in those areas concerns me.”
As for the unit elimination allowing CSUF to admit more students, Guerin said such actions would instead make students feel rushed toward graduation.
“Do I think this is a move in the right direction of quality? No. I think it’s a move in the right direction if you want to get students in and get them out,” Guerin said.
Furthermore, Guerin said that 81 percent of the major programs on campus require only 120 units, making the elimination of the nine upper-division units insignificant for the majority of CSUF students.
Cindy Perez, 19, a biochemistry major, said she is concerned the loss of the nine upper-division units could “endanger the opportunity of what we can learn” and can “take away our chance to learn and study more.”
The proposal is set to be discussed next week at the Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach.