Staff Writer

A proposal that would reform the university's general education curriculum and institute yearly reviews of the requirements was presented at Tuesday night's Student Government Association Student Senate meeting.
UT's general education requirements were last revised in 1988. The General Education Proposal seeks to make general education a "more dynamic" program, Daniel Klyce, a member of Faculty Senate's Undergraduate Council, said.
"No longer will it (general education program) wait another 15 years to go through revision, but rather it will be yearly looked at to make sure it's going as smooth as possible. ... and maintain the standards that have been introduced in the proposal," Klyce said.
"The number of courses in the curriculum will not be changing," he said.
The current program requires 14 courses and the new proposal includes an equal amount. The changes outline a different combination of courses, including a new "communicating orally" course and requires three writing-emphasis courses instead of the current two.
"With the addition of a third writing class, we envision that in many programs the courses that you take as a writing intensive may very well be a course in your major that may be redesigned ... so that it becomes for learning to write and writing to learn," said Laura Jolly, a professor in retail and consumer science, chairperson of the Undergraduate Council, and member of the council's General Education Committee.
Also, one new category requiring two courses, "Cultures and Civilization," will include a foreign language, integrative study and history. This differs from the current policy requiring two foreign language classes and two history classes.
"The rationale for the general education curriculum is ... to establish a commitment to lifelong learning, ... to make yourself a good citizen, to help you relate to your own self, to society, and to your family and to basically enrich your overall academic experience at the university to prepare you for your place in a community," Klyce said.
The proposal is built upon a plan that was accepted by the Undergraduate Council "in principle" on Nov. 29, 2001. It is expected to produce two main outcomes: basic skills and developing broadened perspectives, reads the proposal.
Faculty have the option of petitioning a course to fit under a category in the new proposal, but they must do so by Nov. 10, 2003. The proposal goes to the Faculty Senate for approval on Nov. 20.
In other reports, senators were updated on the progression of the Service Learning Initiative, which Scott Campbell, student leader of the initiative, and other students began working on last year. The initiative's goal is explore "how feasible it would be to implement a program in which every student at The University of Tennessee gets the opportunity to do service work as a part of their curriculum," Campbell explained.
Campbell said that there are three aspects of service learning: service, reflection through papers or discussions in class, and reciprocity, meaning meeting the needs of the community.
"This has potential benefits for the university, for students, for faculty, for the community," he said.
Campbell and other supporters of SLI are looking into the possibility of hiring a paid director of service for UT. This director would be in charge of working with the community and faculty to create service projects in upper-level classes, Campbell said.
Campbell met with campus administrators and faculty members yesterday morning to discuss the direction the initiative will take and the possibilities it has with the university. SLI would provide students with "the experience of getting to know teachers better and working with them, rather than just learning from them in a lecture format," Campbell said.
During the vice president's report, SGA Vice President M.G. Bailey urged members to attend Saturday's 5:30 p.m. Vol Walk, as well as encouraged senators to spread the word for other students to help "pump up the team" before the UT verses Georgia game begins. He explained that Vol Walk attendance has been low this season.
In addition, Bailey announced that the university is looking at the possibility of changing student seating from assigned to first come, first serve. His announcement sparked immediate reactions and comments among meeting attendees, and Bailey noted that other colleges have random student seating and nothing had been finalized.
Before adjourning, a bill was presented that would require senators to attend meetings of campus organizations each semester instead of holding regular office hours, with the exception of commuter senators.
Unlike a normal bill which would be presented at a meeting and then voted on two weeks later, this bill must be voted on twice because it would change the Student Senate Bylaws. The bill did not pass and will not be coming up for a second consideration at the next meeting. However, it can be modified and presented at a later time, according to the SGA.
Eric Harkness, North Carrick senator and co-sponsor of the bill, explained that hardly anyone ever shows up during SGA office hours anyway, so the bill will help SGA members learn "the pulse of the student body." It intends for SGA members to reach out to student organizations, rather than expecting students to come to SGA with ideas and opinions.
The bill reads that the "Senate Government Association would better represent the student body if it served as the common ground bring together students and organizations to present a more unified student voice."
It continues, "To students SGA appears as an organization among many when it should be an umbrella of the diverse students and organizations of this university. ... Open communication with all segments of the student body is essential to good governance."
Some senators raised opposition because they were elected under the current office hours requirement and they didn't think it was fair to impose a new policy this semester and some questioned its effectiveness, but others supported its intentions. SGA has two weeks to reconsider positions on the bill until the next SGA meeting Oct. 21.