Thursday, September 29, 2011

Students Say Not So Fast

By Kevin Lindsay
For almost a year now the buzz among students at Monmouth College has been the proposal of a new academic calendar. Rumors started swirling last fall that the faculty senator was creating a committee to oversee this task. All of the tension between students and the faculty, and even between faculty members themselves grew to a T this month in a heated debate that spanned nearly three hours.

The faculty gathered to vote on a proposed calendar change to a 4-4 system. The 4-4 system would limit the classes that students had to take per semester to only 4 at a time with the possibility of 5, depending on the students major. The proposal failed with 48 faculty voting no and 47 faculty voting yes. When asked if he was disappointed about the failed vote, English Professor Mark Willhardt said “In one sense I am [disappointed with the vote] because, in my opinion, the changes proposed were actually minimal.” He further stated that “to eliminate the Human Societies rubric doesn’t mean those courses will cease being offered; to reduce the arts and sciences requirements doesn’t mean that the College fails to endorse the Arts, or the Sciences.”

When the Courier published an article covering the failed vote, student’s responded. In the middle of the heated discussion that some would call a faculty meeting, Political Science professor and faculty-senate member Farhat Haq believed that the faculty needed to stop postponing a calendar change. “I have been here for over 24 years and this is the most trustworthy administration I have seen thus far. It’s time to move forward and take the risk.” Many students who heard Haq’s words agreed. Junior Business major Steven Seers said “I agree with Farhat. We need to move on and take risks. We all took risks by coming to college and sometimes calculated risk equals what we need to make things for the better.” Senior Business major Joshua Williams shared some of the same views as Prof. Willhardt saying, “I think it was silly for the faculty to vote 4-4 down. From what most of the students know, it seems like it would lighten the workload for them a lot. Many people think that the students would party more instead of studying more, but others think with the school time managing better, that the students could and would probably do the same.”

Not everyone thinks that 4-4 would be easier. Junior Communications major Taylor Nania said “I understand what they're trying to accomplish with the 4-4 calendar, but I don't particularly agree with it because there are students on campus with multiple majors and multiple minors. Having the 4-4 plan doesn't allow students to take the amount of classes they want to achieve those majors and minors, therefore not letting them get the education they want.” Other students were not aware of the change at all, including incoming freshman and transfer students. David Hazlett, a sophomore transfer student told the newswire “I had no idea that there was even a proposed change until I read the Courier. You would think that the school would at least mention something to all of us considering the change will affect the future students the most.”

Junior Biochemistry and Chemistry major Jake Nysather had a lot to say about the proposed 4-4 change as well. “I believe the 4-4 system is a terrible idea for any students who are planning on going pre-professional or are planning on going into education. This [new system] will not prepare students as well as the system does right now. “ Nysather continued on with his praise for the proposal being voted down, “the new system would force students to stay an extra semester or year, which will drive students away and make the enrollment plummet. No one and their parents want to spend more money than they have to.” Whether the students agree or disagree with the proposed 4-4 scheduling plan, we won’t know anything about the next move until the next faculty-senate meeting on October 4th.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


By Ryan Bronaugh

“I’m here today to exercise my own 1st amendment rights to address the demonization of the Tea Party movement,” Associate Professor of Economics, Richard Johnston said as he opened the public speech he gave to a crowd of around 350 last Thursday at the 2nd Annual Tea Party Rally at the Lake Storey Lions shelter in Galesburg.

Professor Johnston took the stage following the Galesburg Area Tea Party President, Deb Marty’s welcome brief, which included a plea to respect the right to free speech by the evening’s speakers, the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the National Anthem, opening prayer by Pastor Bob Malone, and Master of Ceremony speech by Knox County retired Judge Harry Bulkeley.

Chuckles and quiet applause could be heard as he warmed up the crowd saying, “If I sound like I am backing down at all, at the end of the speech give me an F. I have no intention of giving in to the political correctness that is like a metastasizing cancer throughout our society,” adding, “I will not remain silent because it might—quote, unquote—offend someone.”

The quiet applause turned to cheers when Johnston announced, “I am offended by the bankrupting ideology of out-of-control officials who demonstrate by their deeds that they have every intention of continuing to trample on our freedoms.”

Johnston’s first subject in addressing the demonization of the Tea Party movement he represented on Thursday, was the issue of racism. Many Tea Party members have grumbled over how, in their opinion, the Tea Party’s message is often presented as racist by news, and other media outlets. Johnston started by borrowing two quotes. The first came from the British American financial journalist, and one time editor for Forbes Magazine, Peter Brimelow, saying, “The modern definition of racist, is someone who is winning an argument with a liberal.” Johnston then lifted a t-shirt for the crowd to see and said, “the shirt reads as follows, ‘hate speech—any written or verbal communication that disagrees with the liberal-back-slash-socialist agenda or the policies of the Obama administration.’” Both quotes earned widespread applause from his audience.

Following quotes borrowed from Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, Johnston said, “look this up on the internet, as a candidate for President, Senator Obama said the high deficits under President Bush were unpatriotic. I would have used the word immoral to describe those deficits, but who am I to quibble with the choice of words of a man whose greatest attribute is his ability to make speeches.

“The Tea Partiests are accused of being terrorist. I’m sorry to say this, but we are guilty as charged,” said Johnston. “Why?” he asked rhetorically. “I have no doubt the thought of not spending money you do not have, of not dictating we must buy health insurance, and of having a real choice as to the schools we send our children to, terrorizes those who want to keep the government boot on the neck of those who want freedom,” Johnston said.

“We don’t hate teachers,” Johnston said, “we just recognize, as was pointed out by someone else, socialism doesn’t work anywhere else, why would we expect it to work in education?”

Addressing the motivation behind the Tea Party’s stance on abolishing the minimum wage, Johnston said, “the true minimum wage is zero. That’s exactly the amount the unemployed person receives when no potential employer values their work at $8.25 an hour, or whatever other arbitrary value is conjured up by economic illiterates.” He then quoted Milton Freeman speaking on the minimum wage law calling it, “the most anti-negro law on the books of this land,” Johnston then said, “he’s right.”

The race issue was reintroduced into the speech later when Professor Johnston said, “I’m tired of being called—quote, unquote—racist by members of a political party who allow people such as—quote, unquote—Reverend Jessey Jackson, and—quote, unquote—Reverend Al Sharpton, to be in Presidential debates. You know Reverend Jesse Jackson, when he’s not busy making babies out of wed-lock he’s saying very Reverend-like-things about President Obama such as, and I quote, ‘I wanna cut his nuts off.’” Laughter could be heard from several sections of the crowd.

Tying the issue of poverty with one of single parent homes Johnston said, “of course I am required to say that some women do a heroic job of successfully raising a child by themselves—yada yada,” after pointing to unspecified statistics Johnston said, “you want the best predictor of a child being poor, it’s being raised by a single parents.”

The Galesburg Area Tea Party announces their scheduled meetings, times and locations in Galesburg’s The Registered Mail.

Monday, September 12, 2011


By Meg Grzenia

It’s mealtime and gallo pinto is being served in that corner, pot stickers are across the terrace, and the Irish lamb stew is right across from the beef empanadas. Of course, this is no ordinary luncheon. These and other delicious, ethnic foods were served last Saturday at Monmouth College’s 17th Annual Cultural Festival. The Brazilian-themed event was sponsored by the Office of Intercultural Life and Public Affairs Committee and included displays from the college’s international students and SOFIA (Summer Opportunities for Intellectual Activity) project members, as well as performances from a Brazilian dance company.

The SOFIA students began the festival with a bang as they sported towering headdresses and flashed samba moves choreographed with the help of Professor Diana Ruggiero, Associate Professor of Modern Foreign Languages. One of the projects assigned to the SOFIA students was to handcraft the headdresses which are part of the traditional Brazilian wear when samba dancing. Senior Ashley Lutz was excited about the project. “We practiced the dance about a million times and we’re really happy that we could share it with people today,” said Lutz.

Edilson Lima, a professional Brazilian dancer who also contributed to the creation of the SOFIA choreography, followed the students’ performance in a dazzling display of his own. Lima, who specializes in various indigenous-based dances, has been an established dance teacher in Chicago for 12 years. After his performances, the audience, persuaded by Lima’s incredible energy, was led in dances originating in Rio de Janeiro and the Amazon. Ten countries, including Brazil, were represented at the festival: Canada, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands.

A great passion and wealth of information was shared by the intercultural students concerning their native countries, but they didn’t fail to mention how much they liked their new campus life, too. “My favorite class would have to be Introduction to Economics,” said senior Katie Murphy who hails from County Antrim, Ireland. “My professor definitely keeps the class entertaining.”
Monmouth College’s Director of Intercultural Life, Ruby Pentsil-Bukari, said that the turnout was noticeable compared to years past. “Many more students were engaged this year than in years before. Overall, [there was] great food and great participation from students, faculty, and community members. Thanks to Professor Ruggiero for her dance classes, the physical plant for setting up the equipment, and to God for great weather!”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

College Curriculum Debate Continues

By Meg Grzenia

Change may be the only certain thing in life, but Monmouth College’s latest faculty meeting proved that some change is dead without a fight. Nearly 100 faculty members met at the Stockdale Center Tuesday night to discuss and vote on the proposed calendar change for the college. The vote to pass the proposal was extremely close, with 47 faculty members in favor of the calendar change and 48 against it. According to The Courier, Monmouth College’s student-run newspaper, the proposal would have altered several aspects of the current curriculum beginning next year.

The introduction of a 4-4 schedule would see that students took only four courses each semester and that professors would teach only three courses. The proposal also demanded that the two science course requirements be lowered to one and the same would go for the two art course requirements. The human societies (i.e. history, religion, and sociology) requirement would be dropped altogether. What followed President Mauri Ditzler’s welcome address was a 2-hour dynamic dispute between opposing stances on the proposal. Farhart Haq, professor of political science and a member of the faculty senate, said that she believes substantial time was spent developing the motion over the summer. “We can reject the work that the summer group has done and the work that we have been talking about for a year and a half, or we can say we trust our fellow colleagues and administration,” said Haq. “I have been here for over 24 years and this is the most trustworthy administration I have seen thus far. It’s time to move forward and take the risk.”

Faculty members like Haq had hoped for the vote to pass, fervently considering the 4-4 schedule as a way to delve deeper into course material and enrich students’ learning experience. English professor Mark Willhardt was also among the proposal supporters and expressed that he valued the students’ right to choose.

Those who had misgivings about the proposal were anxious to speak as well. Kenneth McMillan, professor of economics, stated that his opposition began early on and wondered why the 4-4 proposal was the only solution offered if the faculty senate “truly wanted to improve the academic program.” He also voiced concerns for transfer and double-majoring students. “They’re going to have a harder and harder time meeting their degree requirements [if the proposal passes],” McMillan said.

An unexpected turn came at the beginning of the meeting when history professor Simon Cordery moved to postpone the vote until February 2012. “I feel that this should be revisited in a thorough fashion; we need to take a step back and say ‘is this really the structure that we want?’” Cordery said.

Despite the outcome of the vote, there is still hope for the 4-4 plan, or, at least a calendar change. Under President Ditzler’s request, the faculty senate remained after the meeting to discuss a modified proposal which will be announced to the entire faculty before surfacing at the next faculty meeting.