|NCFDigital Home | Search all Groups | Alumnae/i Association | Archives||| Help|
This item is only available as the following downloads:
-(On the theory that it's difficult enough to know the college when you're a student and so it must be at least as difficult to know it when you are an alumnus, this second student-compiled -written report is published. The reporter was David Middleman Jr., editor of the student newspaper in 1971-72. --Furman C. Arthur) In describing a college, or for our purposes, in describing New College as it exists in 1972, :1n admissions officer might take one tack, public relations or personnel another. It all depends upon what goal the description is to accomplish. The goal of this particu lar undertaking involves several considerations, such as what the college is doing or what t y p e s o f r c 1 a t i o n s h i p s e x i s t b e t w e e n a c a d e m e e d u c a t i o n a n d t h e p e o p l e co n c e r n e d : t h a t is, the students, faculty, and administrators. Our description is a melding of, on the one hand, thoughts of selected faculty about some institutional and academic concerns; and, on the other hand, some thoughts by three students about the relationship of students to their overall environment. Dr. Bryan G. Norton, assistant professor of philosophy and in his second year at the college, gives us a picture of the institution as an educational vehicle. As Dr. Norton sees it, pressure exists from the students and the faculty for structural change .1\sexamples, he cited tenure and decision-making processes. There is very little pressure from the com-munity for education:d change. However financial pressure is coming to bear on the col-lege for such ch:1nge. Dr. Norton sees the problem as twofold: "One, the institution has tried to be all things to all people. Not only is this a difficult task, it is :!lso pretty expensive. Two, the college has tried to structure all of its education into seminars and t u tori a I s ( a s the core program no 1 on g e r e xis t s ). This too is quite e x pensive ." H c m en t ions thl: idea of 'critic,,] mass' in terms of numbers of students adding "we may have already it. 11 While the seminar structure still exists, semin'ars don't. S>me such 'seminars' now have as many as 60 students. Students are now taking on the average of 4. 2 classes per term. To Norton this is far more the important variable to consider in terms of causing problems than the variable of how many students are enrolled. The (Ed.ucat.ional Policy Committee), comprised of students and faculty, has the of In.vestlgating and proposing educational policy. This committee has come up With flgurcs concerning faculty loads. Dr. Norton cites from the findings: "The f:1culty. IS the. average work week is 55 hours long. The problem is not so much time spe.nt 1n only four or five hours per week, but the amount of time spent on tutonals and Informal student contact. 11 Dr .. Norton has b.een .working on the EPC in their efforts to put together a fheyear prOJeCtiOn. The proJeCtion will try to deal with the financial pressures for change. "The Pro j. c t ion, 11 s a y s Nor t .on, 11 is not so m u c h a tim eta b 1 e as an a 1 go r it h m t h at a 11 ow s c e r t a in dcc1S1ons to be made Intelligently. 11 New Cc,llege is in a state of flux, which is as it should be. The notion of 'cxperimcnt:d education' is currently being examined by members of the college community both collectively and individually. There is little question as to the desirability of cxper'i-mcntal education; i;'lstead, people arc asking themselves: What U experimental education? And, pcrh:1ps more Important: How is a given program experimental; what make it experi mental? S u c h q u e s t i o n s a r c n o w b e in g a s k e d w i t h r e s p e c t t o N e w Co 11 e g e 1 s p r o g r a m W h a t happens if we institute lecture courses? What happens if we structure living experiences to coinci.dc with academic experiences? Such actions are being seriously examined at the present time. Perhaps the questions can be answered only after trial by fire. Dr. Margaret L. B:'tes, a political scientist who joined the faculty as a full professor t hi s Y e a r (and h as sin c e b c en e 1 e c ted c h air m an of the Soc i a 1 Sciences D i vision ) h as some on. the subject of New College in an educational context. Dr. Bates was 1nterestcd 1n com1ng here for several reasons: she wanted the chance to work closely with students; she wanted to look at the possibility of merging academic excellence with exper imental education; and, she wanted to find out what kind of interdisciplinary work could be here. The political scientist has found that. for one thing, the place isn't as experimental as it might be. She is on the Educational P .licy Committee working toward making the college more viable. Dr Bates hasn t seen enough empirical evidence con cerning excellence on campus to say much about it. To that end she would like to see better, more systematic use of testinJZ; devices. Dr. Bates spoke of some problems that exist now, along with some problems she could envision for the future. She can see here an imbalance between thought and implementation. In other words, she believes we have a little trouble implementing the ideas generated here concerning education. She also thinks we have a good deal of poteqtial that is not effectively used. There is a possibility according to Dr. Bates, that this might change somewhat when we again have an operating provost. Future problems she can see: first, the difficulty of planning effectively; and
Page 2 sel..ontl, thcrt is the question of how to retain the possibility of close interaction :IS the c o J I c g c g r o w s I :t r g c r When identifying problems in the New College schema, one often starts to formulate alternatives 01nd improvements. No matter where the formulations lay--within the SEC, faculty, division, etc, --some fairly predictable things are likely to happen. Talk will start up, and perhaps a committee or two. Like as not, a few different committees will tackle the presented problem, each coming up with its own particular and peculiar sugges-tions. The SEC may take the problem up, subordinate it, drop it, or do nothing at all. College-wide discussion may take place, as in a town meeting. Some fairly drastic meas-ure might be taken, such as when 22 women occupied the president's office to drive a point home. Eventually, the community might come to some sort of consensus, and perhaps the matter would be taken to the trustees. The whole process takes a fair amount of time, one result being that the problem may no longer exist; or, perhaps, it has changed its form. A question asked frequently at New College is "Where are we (the college) going?" Dr, Danforth Ross, assistant professor of sociology who has been around here for three years, came up with an answer to the question: "Nowhere. At least we are not going anywhere very systematically." Ross' answer is framed by a model of college politics that dictates the need for a singularly powerful leading force. Ross doesn't sec such a force present at New College. He docs, however, have thoughts on a couple of forces that do exist. The sociologist sees the trustees as a potentially very real force capable of doing something either very good or very bad. He sees the faculty, a reasonably powerful group, in an interesting position. They are, as a group, too diverse and divided to effect any mean-ingful change; but at the same time this diversity can effectively veto change. "Believe it or not," Ross says, "the college does, however, change a lot with respect to a response to the character of the student body here." As examples of the change in student character, he describes recent incoming students as being more conventional academically and more willing to play what he calls the 'games. 1 That is, getting papers in, meeting deadlines, etc. If change docs t:1kc place nt New College--whether meaningful or otherwise--a good deal of it occurs through committee action. There are basically two types of committees, standing committees and ad hoc committees. Ad hoc committees are formed to solve or investigate some problem. (Sometimes, it would seem, they are formed to create a prob-lem.) Standing committees, such as the Student Academic Status Committee or the St01tus Committee, function <1S maintenance mechanisml\ although they are often charged with problem-solving. Whatever their nature, there are many committees. In any given f01culty meeting one can sec the dissolution of one committee, only to have two more pop up to take its place. Dr. D01vid A. Gay, assistant professor of mathematics, has been at New College three yc:Jrs. Of the numerous committees, Dr. Gay sees the Student Academic Status Committee (SASC) and the F:culty Status Committee (FSC) as probably having the most effect on the community at large. The SASC, comprised of students and faculty, rules on academic de-ficiencies of students and advises the students as to options in educational programs. The FS.C, also comprised of students nnd faculty, helps to decide if a candidate for a faculty position should be brought here, and also deals with general faculty concerns. Notably, the SASC has a good look at how the contract system is working. Its members, one of whom is Dr. Gay, also have the opportunity of making what Gay refers to as "special decisions. 11 G:ty gives as an example students who want to reduce the number of terms in residence for their particular program. Dr. Gay is concerned with the amount of time faculty have to pursue what he calls "neat things, 11 such as teaching courses that expand the curriculum. With an increase in the number of students and an increase in the time spent on committees, this expansion is hampered, and nobody has any time to do anything. Henry B. Graham, an art historian in his first year here, is very excited about the geographic location of New College; while at the same time, he is a little disappointed that we arc not taking advantage of this location. He is talking mainly about and cultural opportunities. Graham sees the European workshop idea --a semester in Europe for :1 group of students 01nd faculty--as a very important one. He is leading a trip to Italy this year along with Dr. Lee Snyder, He describes the trip as an "expedition to Italy. We'll be a group of explorers." The group will learn through "doing and seeing." He thinks that this sort of program can engender the type of enthusiasm that is very important to education. Apart from the European workshops, or rather in conjunction with them, Graham would like to sec some excursions into Central and South America. Such ventures could be incorporated into historical perspective that connects the old world and the new world. organized introductory courses could be keyed to the workshop to build anticipntion of students. Mr. Graham sees this as a very real possibility.
One of the most :1ttractivc things about New College is that faculty and students seem t o b c m o r c i n t (' r c s t l' d i n e a c h o t h c r as in d i v i d u a 1 s r a t h c r t h an a s c o 11 c c t i v c s, S t u d c n t s :1 r c into the professor not only :ts professional educator, but also ;ts professional human being. The faculty like interests in the student. The idea--perhaps, recently, id(,aJ--of "where somebody is nt" is very much :dive here, for good reason and with good consequences. Robert H. Benedetti, a political scientist who is in his second year here, offers some thoughts on the type of students and faculty we have here, in terms of production. Mr. Benedetti notes thnt the high level of flexibility that exists at NC is accompanied by an accent on hard work, high individual achievement, along with an emphasis on growth. The faculty :uc teaching good, interesting courses. Commenting on one result of this situation, the political scientist says "flexibility has tended to libel, if you want, a sense of community. This in turn hampers the opportunity for collective achievement. 11 Also in this vein he told us, "It's tough for two or three students to give a good class presentation here. We have failed so far to ::tchieve collective goals." As to the quality of students now coming in, Benedetti thinks the students, while not geniuses, are very competent. Turning his thoughts to the student government, he suggests that "The students can't agree on repre .. scntntivcs consequently elections don't mean what they might. 11 In talking with a few students, several thoughts have been offered concerning various asp c c t s of student life New Co 11 e g e is still a womb for m any students. S a r as o t a and B r a d e n t o n a r e s t i ll 1 o o k e d u p o n a s t h e b i g b a d w o r 1 d o u t s i d e 11 -an d w it h 1 it t 1 e c a u s e Students seem to live in the shadow of the valley of death when they lose sight of New's loving lair. A group identity has been constructed out of this valley, eventually taking the form of ilJtcllectual (and fundamentally absurd) elitism and disdain for Sarasotans, "necks," nnd Floridians in general. Inasmuch as this is generally the case with most students, subsequent student life is pretty much embraced by New College. Eat, drink, and sleep in and of New College. Dennis F. Saver, a third-year natural sciences student who graduated in June, has some thoughts on the loose social structure on campus. He comments that the ostracism that used to exist between nat sci students and the rest of the students no longer really exists. In part this is due to more nat sci students being here and it is also due in part to the fact that the n:1t sci students of today aren't into the strong academic pursuits that they used to be. That is, they are also into being a part of the community and interested in them-selves :ts social beings. Commenting on the evolution of social structures that has taken place at New, Dennis observes that the Palm Court isn't a gathering place any more for initiating social activity. The structure of the campus is now such that social activity is initiated more by small groups no longer searching out the larger small group of the community. The larger small group, in Dennis' terms, has of course grown quite large; it is no longer a small group. People don't stay up all night long, of lights on in the courts now." Parties as they used to. "You can almost count the number are failures for lack of attendance. Many more students live off campus now than in previous years. Dennis consequently finds it interesting that there doesn't seem to be much more interaction between the college community and the townspeople. Students rely most heavily, whether they live on or off campus, on the college community for social activity. ''As in the past, people seek each other out in their rooms and 'that is that." Something, at least, hasn't changed. Politics arc pretty much academic at New College. For the most part, wearing or not wearing a shirt in the dining area is of far more importance than bullets in Phu Bai or Jackson, Mississippi. (Small wonder!) Strangely enough, however, the campus does open its political eyes once in a coon's age or so. Of course, they don't stay open for long. Douglas Murphy, a second-year student who is here for his fourth year, offers some thoughts on the political climate of New College. Doug was the initiator-organizer of the political demonstrations and radical activity that occurred here two years ago. "There isn't a political climate here at New College. A political climate implies a train of collective thought and/or activity, especially activity. That doesn't exist on campus at the moment." He says that there are a large number of self-proclaimed radicals, but they don 1t do anything. With the exception of Project REAL, which to Doug is not radical, there is no genuine activity. Doug gives as reasons: first, the old guard radicals are gone. They nrc now twenty-one or two years old and they aren't on campus, Second, we have a new that makes up the student body. They grew up so saturated with radical activity that they don't see the need for it, They see the need for thought, perhaps, but not activity. "The older generation, that is the people two or three years ahead of them failed or seem to have failed, with activity." They don't see the problems to be as pressing as the older generation saw them to be. "They don't feel the problems. The gut
Page 4 reaction isn't there, We, on the other hand, felt them in our guts .. a real experience." The issues at h:1nd on are staggering, Doug feels, They are hard to come to grips with --1. s s u c 1 i k c W om en s Lib e ration or G a y Lib era t ion. "They are a 1m o s t anti -political issues in the sense that we knew politics. The demands of such movements don't lend themselves to real activity at this stage in their development. As to institutional reasons or situ:1tional reasons why :1ctivity doesn't exist :1t New College, Doug offers three reasons :1gain: "First the school is too small. It is hard for a political leader to rise without becoming personally vulnerable. Second, what we call the simple hedonistic freedoms at New College subvert rebellion. Third, the administration appears to be very flexible, but once out of the public view, the administration becomes as reactionary and hard-lined as any. It's perfectly willing to shaft a radical quietly and privately in ways that don't ghc :1 person a chance to fight back. In a small place like this, you can kill a movement by cutting off its head." Students, while not particularly expressive about the world situation, are interested somewhat in their own affairs. The SEC is still in operation. Student affairs are still pretty much just that--affairs of and by the students. We make some attempt at collective dialogue and action. The attempts are, however, usually pretty ineffectual and/or meaningless. As usual, a few students by and large man age the affairs of state, either through student institutions or through less collective means. For the most part, students are more interested in academics and individual realization than some sort of well-oiled, purposeful social system. Alex H:>gerty, who graduated in June has been here for four years. He offers some comm e n t s o n a c o up 1 e of s t u d e n t -o ri e n t e d in s t it u t i o n s a n d i s s u e s 0 n t h e t o w n m e e t i n g : I t just doesn't work as effectively as it used to. It's harder to get a town meeting together now. You just can't go running to the Palm Court yelling about getting a meeting together. It doesn't work. People now want to use the town meeting as a forum rather than as an operation of the government. There is no spontaneity to a town meeting any more, no longer a real generation of ideas. Maybe the SEC should be reorganized in light of the new character of the town meetings." On the administration: "When we talk about tuition increases, I get the feeling that the students are no longer what they were; but instead, they are sources of income (65% of college operating costs come out of student fees. I think this figure is increased some degree per year to eventually read something like 75%)." Hagerty offers that this is a conservative estimate of cost percentages. "This has resulted in having--instead of a person-to-person relationship between the business office and the student--the effect that the student is getting less for his money: if you just consider students as sources of income, you don't consider as much their personal aspirations, wants, and needs. Three years ago we had a van .. three years ago the community knew itself." On tenure: "I don't think the faculty and students ever really got together and shared common views on tenure as I would have liked to have seen. I don't see anything wrong with faculty member getting up and s:tying 'These are the basic facts of life.' (Job security, family responsibilities, etc.) The students, in turn, could relate to the faculty how the tenure system encroaches upon or hampers their academic goals. Now tenure might stand in the way of an innovative academic program. I don't know what would have come of such a meeting. We would have at least learned something about each other." By way of conclusion, it might be said that New Cullege is at least as complex as it has e v e r b e c n p r o b a b 1 y m o r e s o P e r h a p s s o m e t i m e s o m e r e a s on ab 1 y c 1 e a r 1 y d e f in e d go a 1 s and ways of doing things can be focused upon. Perhaps then we can get down to the serious business at hand .. if we can figure out what business that is.