Students surveyed on LPAP expansion proposal
Students can weigh in on a proposed curriculum change in this year’s Survey of all Students.
The first segment of the mandatory survey focuses on the proposed replacement to the Lifetime Physical Activity Program, despite pushback from some Student Association Senate members regarding its placement on the survey.
The proposal advocates for replacing the LPAP requirement with a broader Lifetime Enrichment one credit hour requirement, consisting of courses in physical activity, mental well-being, financial literacy, cultural enrichment, leadership and civic engagement.
At the Oct. 23 SA Senate meeting, SA President Justin Onwenu announced his decision to include the proposal in the SAS to get the full student body’s feedback on the idea, rather than only relying on the SA. Onwenu, who attended some college discussions, said the discussions often sidetracked to a broader discussion of the curriculum, rather than specifically focusing on the LPAP requirement.
“I admit, this hasn’t been the most straightforward process and that is due to the fact that expanding the LPAP to [Lifetime Enrichment] and addressing larger curriculum concerns seemed to be getting intertwined in the same discussion,” Onwenu said.
The decision to alter the the SA’s usual method of gathering feedback via college presidents and senators was not without opposition from some in the SA. According to an Oct. 24 email to Baker College from senator John Michael Austin, many in the SA were upset at Onwenu’s decision to include the question in the SAS.
“So many other senators and I are unhappy with this decision to bypass Senate's regulatory capacity entirely and place questions directly on that survey,” Austin, a junior, said in the email.
Austin declined to comment for this article.
Onwenu said he took feedback from the senators and presidents in order to come up with the current timeline and proposal.
“When the SAS approach was pitched it was originally received as ‘avoiding Senate’,” Onwenu said. “To make it clear that I trust Senate to represent students accurately we decided to make it crystal clear that Senate will have a final debate and vote on this proposal.”
Martel College President Dylan Dickens, one of the members who proposed the original piece of legislation, said Onwenu was not going around Senate but simply expanding the traditional process.
“If it was just SAS I would worry that there is bypass,” Dickens, a senior, said. “The process has been through a couple of iterations, some of which have been concerning, but the current plan is essentially the regular process in addition to SAS survey data the way I see it.”
Duncan College Senator Juliette Turner-Jones and Brown College Senator Grace Wickerson, the two SA senators involved in creating the original proposal, declined to comment.
According to Onwenu, he worked with college presidents, senators, and the Office of Institutional Effectiveness to ensure an unbiased question on the SAS. The proposal is included in the SAS accompanied by a blurb for and against the change.
However, Dickens said he was concerned about the lack of interest students place in the SAS. At the Oct. 23 Senate meeting, he suggested placing a dummy question in the survey to assess the validity of the Lifetime Enrichment question results.
“I have some general concerns about the effectiveness of a referendum when voters have little incentive to critically think about the question being asked,” Dickens said.
Moving forward, Onwenu said Senate will revisit the proposal after getting the results of the SAS in mid to late November. Depending on student support, Senate can then decide whether to introduce legislation in support of this proposal.
Senate approval would suggest student support for the program, which would then be discussed by the University Committee for Undergraduate Curriculum, Onwenu said. This committee would go on to provide a recommendation to the Faculty Senate, who holds the final decision making authority over curriculum changes.
According to Onwenu, the logistical details of creating the Lifetime Enrichment program would be up to the CUC to deliberate. He said that in order for classes in the targeted areas to exist, they would likely need to be part of the program.
“In general, courses must fall under a funded program to be offered [for] students,” Onwenu said. “While I would hope that these courses can be created even if [Lifetime Enrichment] is not supported it is hard to say.”
More from The Rice Thresher
The current dean of architecture, Sarah Whiting, will leave Rice this summer to become the first female dean of Harvard Graduate School of Design. Whiting has been dean since 2010 and oversaw many pivotal changes in the school of architecture, such as the implementation of the “Totalization” program, an immersive studio experience for sixth-year architecture students.
An email Listserv called “Friends of Diversity” was created by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Multicultural Center Tuesday morning and was closed later that day. Primarily students of color across campus found themselves added to the Listserv without signing up beforehand.
Two years after Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, the Rice community continues to find ways of documenting the experiences of those affected and creating spaces where students, policymakers and scholars can learn from each other.