By joseph Cotton, Education & Enrichment Coordinator
Instating an internship or experiential learning requirement into the curriculum would be a disastrous mistake that would increase inequality in the Xavier student body.
With the recent installment of Dr. Colleen Hanycz, president, Xavier is constructing a strategic plan that will lay out the roadmap for the university for the next five years. This gives the school an opportunity to look at what needs to be left behind and what needs to change going forward. This means that right now is the time to make sure that we are aiming for the right goals as a university.
Given the urgency of this issue, we cannot allow the university to move forward on instating an experiential learning requirement for graduation — at least not without serious accommodations to ensure that it is feasible for everyone.
The first issue with an experiential learning requirement is that it is unpaid work. People who are working their way through college will not be able to take out six hours per week plus three more hours for travel and preparation without any pay. Add a traditional class load onto the problem, and the burden can quickly get out of hand. For people who are not restricted by their finances, it creates less of an issue, but this policy would burden those who are working hard just to make it work.
The second issue is transportation. Not everyone has access to a car that can get them to downtown Cincinnati for a biweekly internship. Forcing each to take on the long journey via public transportation further adds to the time constraints, given that Xavier is five exits away from the business sector of downtown Cincinnati.
I have some personal experience with this, even though I am fortunate enough to have access to a car. My roommate, who had an internship close to mine, unfortunately did not. Usually, I was able to give him a ride to his internship location, but when I could not, it would add so much extra time to his schedule.
Furthermore, adding more requirements to what is already a bloated core curriculum is just adding more stress that nobody needs. If anything, the number of flags and throwaway classes that just check a box on Ellucian Degree works needs to decrease.
This additional burden on the student experience impacts all the people on campus, not just those directly impacted by stretching their time requirements. Student involvement in different extracurricular activities will continue to go down each year. We will be losing the contributions of so many people in the campus community.
But frankly, the fact that the university is even considering the implementation of an experiential learning requirement either speaks to their inability to consider the ways that class and inequality impacts the student experience or their naivety to the realities of a college experience that is becoming increasingly more expensive.
My guess is that the administration wants to use an experiential learning requirement as a Band-Aid fix to quell criticisms that the university is not as involved in the community as many people would like it to be. Sending out a troop of 20 year-olds in the city is certainly not the solution to this problem; it requires a much more concerted effort than simply adding an extra graduation requirement.
However, there is a way that the administration can alleviate some of the burdens on students who need it if they choose to go ahead with this requirement: creating a need-based stipend fund for people who would have a hard time making an experiential learning requirement work. Theoretically, this would allow people to be able to cut the number of hours they would need to work to stay afloat.
President Hancyz and Provost Chrastil, please reconsider adding this additional requirement.