It is just about time for Portland State students to plan out the upcoming fall quarter. Yet, upon further examination, one quickly realizes that something important is definitely missing from the courses regularly offered.
It is just about time for Portland State students to plan out the upcoming fall quarter. Yet, upon further examination, one quickly realizes that something important is definitely missing from the courses regularly offered. Media Studies cluster courses, as well as cluster courses for several other sophomore inquiries, are not being offered. These clusters have disappeared.
The current story out of the University Studies department is that these sophomore inquiries did not have high enough enrollment rates. In turn, the decision was to integrate these programs into larger, more populated clusters. For example, the Media Studies cluster was integrated into both the Popular Culture and the Freedom/Privacy/Technology cluster. This means that students who were locked in to the Media Studies cluster could chose to move into one of the two larger clusters and take classes involved in either of those sections.
Yet, this week, the schedule was updated to include these clusters. Now, several classes are being offered in Media Studies that would fulfill a student’s cluster obligations. However, the University Studies department continues to state that the programs are being integrated. After personally having to sort through this cluster…mess, it appears that the University Studies program is suffering from a severe communication breakdown.
Nowhere on the University Studies website is any explanations for this discontinuity. Students who are unaware of this development are going to be left confused and potentially robbed of valuable tuition funds and time. Within the coming weeks, students are going to begin class registration, and these scheduling problems remain. This late in the game, it seems unacceptable that these essential classes have not been organized.
Currently, the University Studies cluster websites reflect that these clusters are not yet integrated. Yet, Media Studies is not being offered as a sophomore inquiry class next term. So, which is it? Is Media Studies truly being integrated? Is the program remaining separate? Which classes should Media Studies cluster students sign up for? At this point, it doesn’t seem as if anyone really knows.
Last year, the University Studies department eliminated several cluster tracks and condensed them into the “Interpreting the Past” cluster. This shift was well announced, as the website reflected these changes and informed students that these tracks would no longer be offered. Why hasn’t the school handled this shift in the same manner?
University Studies involves all students. Because these classes are required in order to meet general studies requirements, the problems that arise can affect everyone. Until this issue is addressed, many students run the risk of falling behind in their requirements or fulfilling incorrect requirements.
One goal of University Studies is, ironically, communication. Yet, this department seems to have forgotten to let students know what is really going on inside. A simple e-mail to students listing the programs that are being integrated would solve these issues, yet with students already registering, there is no dialogue in the works.
At some point, the university will need to make a solid statement on what is changing within the University Studies department. Without doing so, they only create more problems for students. After sorting through all of these mixed messages, it seems that there is little consistency between information sources within the department.
The conclusion seems to be that Portland State is failing to inform its students. These shifts, at this point in the year, could potentially throw students off track and hinder their graduation. What will become of those who are currently set in the Media Studies track is not fully known. Many students are still struggling to understand what all of these “clusters” and “inquiries” even are, and while the university attempts to explain how general education credits are acquired, the system, and the changes within it, remains perplexing. ?