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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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Re-evaluating general education

MSSA plans to examine which courses are valuable, previews new recreation facilities

by Dannielle Higginbotham

Issue date: 10/30/08 Section: Senate News and Notes
The Minnesota State Student Association got a look at the soon-to-be-built campus recreational facilities at its Wednesday meeting.

Director of Campus Recreation Todd Pfingsten and Vice President of Finance and Administration Rick Straka showed a detailed map of the new facilities. The earliest phase of construction is expected to begin next semester.

Although construction will begin soon, the entire area will not be closed off.

"Other recreational spaces will be available for use while others are being constructed," Pfingsten said. "It will reduce our ability to program a little, but not too much."

The total estimated project cost for the new facilities is nearly $7.9 million, though the university is looking at further ways to save money due to the current economic crisis.

"The interest rate we were hoping for has risen over the past few months," Straka said.

Although the university was hoping to get a five percent interest rate on the building, that rate currently sits at somewhere around 5 and one-fourth percent.

"We're working with agencies to get ourselves in good financial standing," Straka said.

In his officer report, President Ryan Anderson discussed the upcoming alcohol forum to be held regarding the university's changing alcohol policy.

An exact date remains to be set, but it will likely be sometime in November and function as an opportunity for students to voice their opinions regarding the policy change.

"The first draft of the new policy will be done next week, so we'll have a few things to talk about," Anderson said.

The senate passed a measure regarding general education courses that encouraged discussion over the rigor, structure and amount of general education and writing intensives the university requires students to take.

"I'm concerned that, according to the MSSA survey, slightly more than 30 percent of students believe these courses are not harder than high school classes," Anderson said.

Anderson said he recognized that not all general education courses were bad and the variety of classes students at MSU take is one thing that separates it from other four-year universities and two-year technical colleges.

"There are many terrific gen eds here, and it's a shame we've turned into a culture that runs into the classes we see as easy As," Anderson said. "We need to look at ourselves as students."

Graduate Studies Senator Ahmet Dursun said that the survey question was too general.

"Some courses are valuable and should exist," Dursun said. "In order to be more clear, we should see which ones don't seem valuable."

The senate also decided to use money from its reserve to fund the Maverick Textbook Reserve program, which buys textbooks for some courses and keeps them in the library where students can check them out for two hours at a time.

The campus Barnes and Noble recently gave $3,500 to the program and the senate voted to give an extra $2,000.

"I definitely support this motion," said College of Allied Health and Nursing Senator Robert Dooley. "I'd especially support it for science classes."

College of Business Senator Ryan Johnson agreed.

"I support redistributing the wealth and helping to alleviate book costs, as these can often be factors in dropping classes or dropping out of school," Johnson said.

The program started from state funds but needs local funds to continue. It focuses on targeting undergraduates in general education classes and goes off the idea of buying one book to serve many students.

Dannie Higginbotham is a Reporter staff writer