Thursday, December 9, 1999


UH faculty
approves cuts in
core requisites

Greater flexibility could make
it easier for full-time students to
graduate in four years

By Susan Kreifels


The University of Hawaii-Manoa Faculty Senate has approved two highly contentious resolutions after a year of discussion by a senate task force on ways to cut the number of general education requirements.

The resolutions would allow students to skip second-language course requirements if they pass a test, and would make two required world civilization courses devote units to native Hawaiian, Pacific Island and Asian cultures.

Students currently must take 40 credits of required courses plus 12 to 16 second-language credits, senators said. The resolutions cut those numbers to 31 credits, and six of them can be substituted by other courses.

The campus has hummed with e-mail and other correspondence over the controversial resolutions, and almost all 69 senators were present at a meeting yesterday where they were approved.

Mary Tiles, who chairs the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, called passage of the resolutions "a major accomplishment. It opens the door for more flexible arrangements."

Faculty members said flexibility will make UH-Manoa, which has seen declining enrollment, more competitive and make it easier for full-time students to graduate in four years. The UH-Manoa administration has supported cutting back on the requirements.

The resolutions are nonbinding but will be sent to the administration and the UH Board of Regents to consider as they contemplate changes in core requirements.

Students have complained that the world civilization courses have been dominated by Euro-American perspectives, especially distressing to them because of UH-Manoa's commitment to the Asia-Pacific region and the state's dominant Asia-Pacific population.

"We tout ourselves as a diversity college," said Mamo Kim, president of the UH-Manoa Graduate Students Organization. "We need to put up or shut up."

Language faculty members opposed changes to current language requirements.

"Learning to see the world through the eyes of a different language is a central part of a university education," said Roderick A. Jacobs, interim dean of the College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature.

The language resolution says the language divisions will be encouraged to develop courses that answer the specific needs of students in technical and professional fields, and to work with the state Department of Education's new Foreign Language Standards.

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