Archive for November, 2001

WU volleyball season comes to a close in hard fought loss to Wisconsin-Whitewater

Friday, November 30th, 2001 | Jeff Kahntroff
Anthony Jacuzzi

“It was a great year,” said head coach Rich Luenemann.

The Bears’ great year was highlighted by many impressive accomplishments. Luenemann said, “Even though we didn’t win the National Championship, that doesn’t detract from our successes. We captured our 13th consecutive UAA title and won over 30 matches for the 16th year in a row. We were rated No. 1 in America for much of the year and defeated the team, Central [College], who’d won the last three NCAA Division III championships. We split matches with Whitewater, the overwhelming favorite to win this year’s title.”

This great year, however, came to an end in the quarterfinals. After defeating Fontbonne, Wartburg, and Central, the Bears faced Wisconsin-Whitewater, and were defeated, 3-2.

“Our quarterfinal match with Whitewater was a barnburner,” said Luenemann. “Two NCAA records were set.most digs by two teams, 278.and most kills by two teams, 132. I believe that if Washington University and Whitewater played each other ten times, each team would win five matches. That’s how close it was.” Unfortunately for the Bears, this match favored Whitewater.

What the Bears can take from this year is that their future looks very bright. “Two of the most pleasant surprises of the year were the play of Katie Quinn and Colleen Winter,” said Luenemann.

“Katie played behind Katie Gielow, our All-American, last season, and saw limited court time. She stepped in this year and was a dominant force in the middle. Katie led the team in hitting percentage and was second in blocks.

“Colleen demonstrated tremendous poise for a freshman. Her passing in serve-receive was very integral to our success. She finished the season with one of the highest hitting percentages for an outside hitter in WU history, and also had the best ace-to-error serving ratio on the team.”

This year also marked the end of two Bears’ careers, seniors Mia Viola and Julie Suellentrop. According to Luenemann, “one of the toughest things to do after the final match of the year is to say goodbye to the seniors. It’s impossible at that time to adequately verbalize the contributions they’ve made to the program. You hug them, tell them how much you’ve enjoyed coaching them, and express how much they’ll be missed. Julie Suellentrop and Mia Viola are exceptional people. Each was an instrumental part of our successes. They’ve both been great ambassadors for Washington University volleyball.”

However, don’t think that the WU volleyball program will be in shambles next year. The Bears will return three All-Region players, Amy Brand, Rebecca Rotello and Winter. Moreover, Rotello was also named First Team All-American, and Winter was named Central Region Freshman of the Year.

Luenemann says, “I eagerly anticipate the beginning of practice for the 2002 season.” If the Bears 2002 season goes as planned, he and the rest of the WU community will enjoy the season even more.

Contact Jeff at [email protected]

Sports Briefs

Friday, November 30th, 2001 | Jeremy Zangara

National Basketball Association

ST. LOUIS (AP)-There might no longer be a front-runner in the competition of cities for the Charlotte Hornets.

Given the chance to pick between St. Louis, Louisville, Ky., or any other city, Hornets co-owner Ray Wooldridge declined Wednesday after meeting with St. Louis Blues owner Bill Laurie and Mayor Francis Slay.

Previously, Wooldridge-who said he remains committed to finding the Hornets a new home by Jan. 1-had named Louisville as his top choice.

In St. Louis, Wooldridge said, “You have a tremendous fan base and a huge market. The only thing you are missing is an NBA team to fill the void. We see it as a super town.”

Wooldridge called his previous comments about Louisville’s lead over others bidding for the Hornets an “expression of the process.” He said his franchise needs to consider several factors, including the team’s new arena and naming-rights partner, as well as corporate and community support.

Laurie, in his second meeting with Wooldridge, made a presentation that featured Slay and a large contingent of business and community leaders. Wooldridge called the discussions preliminary, but said he would meet again with Laurie and is “very much interested in pursuing the conversation.

“Your reputation speaks for itself,” Wooldridge said. “No one ever doubted that St. Louis was a tremendous sports city.”

Both Wooldridge and Laurie, a former college guard at Memphis who is married to a Wal-Mart heir, declined to discuss any details of their meetings.

Asked if he’d be willing to sell the team to Laurie, Wooldridge said, “I think Bill Laurie is going to be an excellent owner of an NBA team at some point, but the percentage of that, I have no idea.”

Laurie has twice beamed at news conferences announcing the purchase of an NBA club, only to see the deals fizzle once because his offer was considered too low, once because the league wouldn’t heed to his demand to move the team to St. Louis.

Dr. Z’s Diagnosis

Friday, November 30th, 2001 | Jeremy Zangara

Thanksgiving Treat

The Great Turkey Feast lived up to its expectations, but the weekend in college football exceeded them. I mean, really exceeded them. Nebraska played Colorado with a chance to play for the opportunity to write their own destiny with the BCS. Instead, they got their asses kicked. I mean, really kicked, to the tune of 62-36. This gave Oklahoma the chance to redeem itself for its early season loss to Nebraska.

With a win against Oklahoma State, Oklahoma would earn a chance to play Colorado in the Big 12 Championship Game. But OU didn’t take care of business. Instead, Okalahoma State won the war of Oklahoma, sending the University of Florida into the second spot in the BCS. And these two games weren’t supposed to be really tough matches, especially the Oklahoma battle.

Instead, the Miami versus Washington matchup on Saturday night was supposed to be the best game of the week. Washington was ranked 12 and posed a large threat to Miami’s undefeated season and title hopes, right? Not exactly. Miami won 65-7. That’s right, 65-7! They looked unbeatable, but as I write this, I’m sure the college football gods are preparing a surprise for us this weekend, when Miami can clinch a spot in the Rose Bowl against number 13 Virginia Tech, who has a chance to redeem a disappointing season. All I can say is: put yourself on the couch, get some leftover turkey, and pray for another wild weekend of college football.

Time of Change

It’s been almost two decades since the Utah Jazz were this bad. They’ve begun the season 6-9 and have looked in shambles during manystretches of their games. The bad start, coupled with rumors of trading Karl Malone and the selling of the team, makes it appear that the great run in Utah may be coming to a close. John Stockton has said that he will retire after this season if the team is not going to be very competitive next year. And now, trade rumors are swirling around the Salt Lake City as Karl Malone’s name has come up in many different cities, including Dallas, close to his hometown.

Although the team may still turn things around to have a productive year, the talk about an era ending in Utah is something that we as sports fans may never ever see again. Two sure Hall-of-Famers playing together for the same team over their entire careers. Stockton and Malone have become a combination that competes with the best combos ever in sports history. And with all the pressures to move cities for greener pastures, or the lure of championship glory, it is surprising to see two players that have never won a championship stay in a city where they play in a smaller market, meaning they most likely could have commanded more money elsewhere, but chose to stay together.

I think this says a lot about the ownership of the Jazz, as well as the type of people that Malone and Stockton are. I respect them both a great deal for trying their hardest to bring a championship to Utah, without demanding a trade because they wanted a ring or more money. Instead, they stuck it out together, and would have two championship rings if it weren’t for Michael’s comeback. But even Jordan cannot claim now that he only played for one team. In fact, there are very few greats that can make that claim, and I really hope that the Malone trade doesn’t happen because I want him to retire as a member of the Jazz. As much as I would root for him to win a ring (unless he somehow went to LA), I think the pride and dignity that goes along with spending an entire career with one team is something that is not recognized enough in sports.

Free agency and trades have created a short-term shelf-life for players in many cities. They come in for a while, make their dough, win a few games, and move on. Personally, I think starting and finishing a career in the same city is something players should be more dignified in doing. Larry Bird always talks about how he was so proud that he remained a Celtic for his entire career, not wanting a trade in the early 90s when the team was not championship-caliber. I hope the Jazz organization and Karl Malone decide that he should finish up his wonderful career in a Jazz uniform, even if it means him never getting another opportunity to win. Or bring in the necessary players to give him one last shot. But don’t tarnish one of the last great players to spend his career for one organization, in one city, in front of one group of fans.

Contact Jeremy at [email protected]

Strong start puts Bears in familiar territory

Friday, November 30th, 2001 | Lesley McCullough
file photo

Last March the Washington University women’s basketball team collected its fourth consecutive NCAA Division III National Championship, only to lose four of five starters to graduation two months later. Consequently, this year’s success quotient was hard to predict-would WU remain atop the D-III rankings or would they perhaps crash dramatically out of the top twenty-five?

Even though the season is still young, the Bears already have a lot to be thankful for. Players are healthy, the team remains undefeated through its first four games, and the Bears have captured two tournament championships.

The D-III preseason poll on had WU ranked second behind Messiah College, the very team the Bears defeated in the 2001 championship game, 67-45. Not any more. WU vaulted over Messiah in this week’s rankings and are queens of the hill once again.

The season began on the road with the DePauw University Tip-Off Tournament, where the Bears silenced some of the skeptics. On November 16th, WU took on Illinois Wesleyan University and defeated them handily 87-64. WU shot 55 percent from the floor and scored 40 points in the paint. Senior co-captain Robin Lahargoue led all scorers with 17 points and four assists.

WU advanced to the championship game where it took on host DePauw University. Junior Laura Crowley scored 19 points and had six steals in the Bears’ 69-61 victory as the Bears rolled on.

While most students were still home recovering from their Thanksgiving Day dinners last week, the women were hard at work on the court. The Bears hosted the first annual McWilliams Classic basketball tournament at the Field House and enjoyed quite a feast.

On Saturday, WU defeated Washington and Lee 75-54. Junior Jen Rudis led all scorers with 14 points and three steals, while Lahargoue and sophomore Suzy Digby each chipped in with ten points.

The Bears then proceeded to overwhelm the University of Wisconsin-Stout 101-47 in the championship game. With 10:33 left to go in the first half, the Bears outscored UW-Stout 28-4 in one seven minute stretch. Crowley hit four of seven three-pointers, scoring 12 points in the first half. The Bears benefited from a whopping 65 points off the bench and four players finished the game in double figures. Lahargoue led the way again with 14 points and nine rebounds.

After compiling 22 points and 13 rebounds in the two tournament games, Rudis was named the MVP of the Classic and was joined by senior co-captain Kristi Eller on the all-tournament team.

With last week’s 81-46 loss to Scranton, Messiah dropped from first to 16th, and the Bears easily reclaimed the top spot in the D-III rankings for week two of the sea son. Yet, WU’s No. 1 ranking will be put to the test tonight at the Field House, when the Bears will face off against fellow Clayton neighbor, Fontbonne College.

Last year’s “Wydown Showdown” at Fontbonne was definitely one for the record books. Not only did the Griffins defeat the Bears for the first time since 1982, but they also broke WU’s 81-consecutive win streak, an NCAA women’s all-divisions record that stretched from February 1998 until January 2001.

With Fontbonne looking to repeat its victory over the Bears again this year, the WU players expect a lot of rival fans to be in attendance, especially since they only have to travel two blocks to attend the game.

“The atmosphere is going to be crazy”, said junior forward Danielle Battle. “We’ve been looking forward to it.”

The athletic department is sponsoring a pre-party for all study-weary WU fans. There will be free pizza and t-shirts starting at 5 p.m. outside the Field House.

NBA Beat

Friday, November 30th, 2001 | Matt Goldberg

NBA Royalty

The Sacramento Kings are 11-4, undefeated at home, and playing some of the most exciting basketball in the league.all without their best player.

Chris Webber, who injured his ankle in the pre-season, is expected to rejoin the team in the coming weeks, as he will only serve to bolster a lineup of natural-born shooters and playmakers. Peja Stojakovich, who is closing in fast on the “best international NBA player” distinction, has an athletic all-around game to complement his unstoppable range. Vlade Divac, also from abroad, is having a renaissance year, as he remains the best passing big-man in the game. And there’s Mike Bibby, probably the best acquisition made by any NBA team this past offseason. He has made Sacramento fans quickly forget Jason “Slim-Shady” Williams, and people are starting to realize why Bibby was considered the best player in the draft back in 1998.

This team can score points at will, and they will mainly out-gun any opponent, but none of this will matter in the end if they can’t break their jinx against the super-powered Lakers. And that’s not going to happen any time soon, unless Webber decides to hang out with Shawn Kemp and gain around 50 pounds in an attempt to somehow slow-down Shaq.


One thing journalists love to do is to point out how current NBA stars display similarities to the past NBA legends, and I just wish they had better luck in making their projections.

Remember when Keith Van Horn came into the league, and we thought we were getting the next Larry Bird? Well, now it’s Dirk Nowitzki who is playing the role of Larry-legend, albeit with a German accent.

What about the next Magic Johnson? When Penny Hardaway came into the league as a 6-7 point guard, it was hard not to envision the former Laker star reborn (he was even playing for the “Magic”). While Hardaway currently is a role-player in Phoenix, it appears that Jason Kidd is the one who can deliver the behind-the-back passes and nightly triple-doubles that Magic made customary.

And don’t even get started with that guy named Jordan. Since 1993, when Harold Minor came up for his five minutes in the NBA, the list of guys to be the “Air”-apparent has included Jerry Stackhouse, Grant Hill, Michael Finley, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter. Currently, there’s some guy in Washington who bears a slight resemblance (even wears the same number), but his team will need to win a few games before people will start to care.

I feel very lucky to have gotten a chance to see all three of these legends play at their prime during my lifetime. Thanks to the media, my kids will be convinced that they’re watching the same greatness, reincarnated.

Basketball Economics

With all that is wrong with baseball’s monetary situation, the NBA seems to have found a way to ensure that a good team can emerge anywhere on the map.

Sacramento, San Antonio, Minnesota, and Utah (circa ’98) have all fielded competitive teams in markets which Bud Selig would probably die laughing if he were asked to put baseball teams there. With a salary cap, and limits on player’s salaries, the NBA has ensured that the big-spenders cannot have any of the clear advantages that MLB teams can afford (have the Yankees signed Giambi, Alou and Bonds yet?).

Most notably, the New York Knicks and Portland Trailblazers (who have the two biggest payrolls in the NBA), are both hovering around .500, and will not be seeing championships any time soon. However, when you’re playing in the same league as the L.A. Lakers, you could have a payroll worth the GNP of a small country, and Kobe and Shaq would still come out on top.

Does all of this mean the NBA is sitting pretty? No, since ticket prices remain affordable only to execs and lottery winners, and franchises are still in relocation limbo. But, at least they don’t have to wipe out franchises and distribute the players. In my eyes, that makes for a better league.

Contact Nick at [email protected]

Men look to rebound from early-season loss

Friday, November 30th, 2001 | Matt Goldberg
Anthony Jacuzzi

Last Sunday the Bears were stunned by upstart Hanover College, losing 62-55 in the finals of the Hanover College Tournament. The loss put a sour note on an otherwise very impressive 4-1 start for WU men’s basketball.

Their season began with the Lopata Tournament, which WU hosted. The Bears rolled over Middlebury College 99-68 behind 28 points from Chris Jeffries. Next they soundly defeated Whitman College, 77-60, riding a 20-point effort from Jarriot Rook to win the tournament. Next, in another home date WU streaked to victory against Hardin-Simmons, 98-44, behind 16 apiece from Rook and Dustin Tylka. Finally, in running their record to 4-0 WU cut down Berea 90-64 behind another 20 points from Jeffries.

WU coach Mark Edwards “feels good about the 4-1 start.[but] we lost one that we had our opportunities to win.”

The game away against Hanover was WU’s first big test. WU struggled to get the ball inside as a result of Jeffries, the center, getting in early foul trouble. Jeffries reflected on his early foul trouble by saying “I tried to play aggressive defense early and I just got the calls.” Without Jeffries WU couldn’t get anything going, and to make matters worse, WU couldn’t hit a free throw, hitting only 13-of-23 (53 percent) from the line.

The Hanover misstep is, in the scheme of things, a minor glitch considering WU returned no seniors this year. However, WU starts five experienced juniors who Edwards says “bring great parity to the team, which makes it difficult for teams to just stop one or two players.”

Jeffries adds,”We have great team chemistry.”

WU’s ability to spread the ball around has been its strength so far and will undoubtedly pay off down the line at conference tournament time.

Yet, WU must move on from a tough loss and focus on the dual challenge they face this weekend: playing both Coe College and Wisconsin Lutheran. Coe in particular is going to be another good test for the Bears.

“Coe is looking at the matchup this weekend as a great opportunity to make a name for themselves,” said Edwards. On the other hand, Wisconsin Lutheran just moved to Division III this year and is looking at the game as a chance for its team and conference to gain national recognition.

Unlike the Lopata Tournament, neither of these home dates will be a walk in the park for WU. In order for WU to win, Edwards says, “We must run the fast break, execute on defense, and nail free throws.”

WU is off to another good start in the early going in 2001, but it needs a couple of wins this weekend to build confidence going into a very tough conference schedule that’s right around the corner.

contact matt at [email protected]

Lectures are the wrong way to learn

Friday, November 30th, 2001 | Gabe Roth

As an anthropology major, I am told in class after class how much humanity has advanced since men and women hunted and gathered. But what we have achieved since some chimpanzee decided to go bipedal five and a half million years ago has fallen short in an essential way. As Washington University students register for classes, I would like to address an issue that applies to nearly every student and professor on campus.

The classes in which I learn about the development of humanity are taught, for the most part, in lecture format. But I hate lectures. I have never willingly attended a lecture nor will I ever. I’d just as soon sit and watch a dog wag its tail for an hour and a half than sit through a professor drone on about some topic that probably appeals to no one else in the room besides himself. Students who sign up for a class on a specific topic are not necessarily interested in-nor will they be intellectually aroused by-every subtopic addressed in a given lecture.

I realize, as I have been told, that class is not like a close college basketball game that provides excitement every minute. But there are definitely innovative ways to engage students in large lecture classes that will keep even the tired students from losing interest and falling asleep.

The “turn to your neighbor” technique is most effective if the class has upwards of 100 people. Before beginning her lecture, one of my professors would ask students to turn to his or her neighbor and discuss how anthropologists in the future would interpret the garbage, for example, that we make today. Though half the class probably turned to his or her neighbor to discuss weekend plans, the other half who participated got thinking about how an anthropologist could take a dirty sock out of context or make a brilliant connection between a beer can and a college student.

The “prepared questions on notecards” technique works well for classes of 10 to 100 students. For this technique, a professor would hand out notecards with questions on them to groups of 3-6 students. The students would discuss the questions, and time permitting, present a few of their answers to the class. This technique involves more time and desk-moving, but it is also worthwhile.

Since I take about two weeks of shopping before I enroll in a class, I usually feel confident that my classes will be worthwhile and not unbearably boring. In other words, I have been lucky as far as my professors go. If I have fallen asleep in class, I’d like to think it was because I didn’t let my roommate go to bed the previous night until I beat him in Playstation football rather than because the professor was uninteresting.

Not everyone has upbeat teachers. In order to compensate, teachers who lecture need to make strides to keep their students awake and interested. In this column, I’ve suggested a couple techniques professors might use to do so. Hopefully, WU’s professors will adopt these ideas-and generate their own-as they teach their classes next semester.

A call for honesty: WU’s blue light system

Friday, November 30th, 2001 | Crystal Moten and Kristin Cooper

Two Tuesdays ago, around 10:00 p.m., we were walking from the Small Group Housing Complex to the South Forty when, all of a sudden, a student on bike rounded the corner and fell hard onto the pavement. As she fell, we distinctly heard her keys drop to the ground and for a minute thought she had landed on them and sustained damage to her face. Fortunately, this turned out not to be the case. We thought she was seriously hurt and stopped dead in our tracks. The girl had begun to cry and we did not know what to do. The first thing we thought of was to use a cell phone to call the police. However we soon realized that there was a blue light phone nearby, and perhaps the police would be reached faster by using this technology. However, the phone proved ineffective and the police responded slowly.

After a nearby student pressed the blue light, it began, oddly enough, to ring as if we had called a hotline. We were very surprised, especially when it took five or six rings before we got an answer. By the time we got a police officer on the line, we had established that the girl was alright, just startled, with a bruised face. Yet this situation disturbed my friend and me. We are currently sophomores, and since freshman year, have been prodded by campus officials to use the Blue Light System if ever we had a problem. Trouble is, if a student is being chased, for example, and presses the blue light for help, they don’t have the time for an officer to pick up. There would likely be no time to stop at all; for if they do so their attacker will probably hurt them.

Police may counter by saying that the current hotline system is a means to prevent prank calls. But, again, if a person is in serious trouble, will they actually wait for a police officer to pick up the phone? Not likely. We, as college students, should get a little more credit, and should be trusted not to abuse police protection through prank calls. Yes, some of us are immature and are prone to do things that might not be in the best interest of the whole community, but the vast majority of students understand the implications of what pressing a blue light entails.

If administrators intend to maintain this delayed-response hotline system, they at least ought to be upfront about the system’s uses. They ought to tell students that the blue lights are not an immediate response system, and that if they desire urgent help, they ought to call the police directly.

A mad monologue on the women of Pi Beta Phi

Friday, November 30th, 2001 | Nick Adams

Last night Emperor Nero addressed the Washington University community via radio. In his “fireside chat,” he rebuked Student Life and its writers for their libelous claims against the women of Pi Beta Phi sorority. The transcript of his address is as follows.

“To make my concerns plain to the masses, I will deign to speak in the vernacular this evening. Moreover, to foster a frank and informal interpretation of my words, I ask you to hear me tonight not as Nero the Magnificent, but simply as Nero. I address you tonight, my people, in defense of certain distressed damsels, the beautiful and innocent creatures of the Pi Beta Phi sorority.

“The Plebian voice of our acropolis, a newspaper calling itself Student Life, has blasphemed the characters of our most valued, genteel women. The folly of this barbarous castigation should be apparent, but sadly, I cannot trust the ignorant to understand the best and most brilliant of our society. Thus, I address all in our land tonight to rid our future of such verbal brutality against our finer class, the virtue of which is, and ought to be, beyond reproach.

“This society has been ordered so that the strong may prevail over the weak. Differences in human ability exist, and always will. It is the charge of statecraft to create a hierarchy that ensures this natural order, and my predecessors and I have done so magnificently. Where else do you think I get my name? We have created a society where the meek may rise to wealth and the wealthy may become less wealthy. Indeed, even the Black man may become pacified and rich in this magnificent [chuckling] world we have created.

“The young women of the Pi Beta Phi sorority exemplify the rising cream of our society. Their occupation with fashion, status, social interaction and indeed, their wasteful and conspicuous consumption constitute the dream for which we all must strive. We must remember, always, to see such behavior for what it is, a shining example of the best humanity has to offer. The peasant newspaper, Student Life, resents this dream perhaps because the nincompoops who comprise its staff are unable to achieve at a similar level.

“Their assault on the goodly women of said sorority is clearly a redirection of frustrations stemming from their own collective incompetence, small carriage size, and lack of fashion sense. These scum-slinging evildoers, whose existence wastes the components of human life, have no right to question the propriety of elite behavior.

“As The Magnificent, I have every right to disband this publication and disembowel its writers. However, as I am a just ruler, I will instead forgive this infraction promising to visit further harms on the writers of Student Life and their families in the event of future insults on our finest. To the women of Pi Beta Phi sorority, I apologize for the brutality of the barbarous attacks on your pristine natures. I assure you that they will not occur again without the flying of fair Justice’s most retributive hand.

“To all listening, I enjoin you to understand your position in our world. If you are a merchant, I thank you and wish you the best. If you are poor, I urge you to keep struggling against the ridiculously immense odds. I know they often seem insurmountable. [sniff. snort] If you are very poor, you are probably too ignorant to understand me. If you are very, very poor, you probably don’t have a radio in the first place. But, if you are listening, please be sure to burn your dead so as not to spread disease. Thank you all. Have a good night. And, God Bless us, every one.”

For four: WU requires too many credits

Friday, November 30th, 2001 | Jonathan Stahler

The number of credits required for graduation from Washington University is too high and should be reduced so that students need not take more than four classes per semester. While Washington University’s administrators seem to be of the opinion that a heavy course load translates into a higher quality education, in reality it means just the opposite. As a direct result of WU’s one-hundred and twenty credit graduation requirement, students at this university get less out of their courses, lead more stressful lives, and emerge after four years of college armed with enough memorized information to hold their own at any cocktail party, while lacking the wide depth of knowledge a true liberal arts education is supposed to impart.

When asked to justify the extraordinarily high requirement, administrators reject the suggestion that it is in fact too high. They argue, instead, that it’s necessary to provide undergraduates with a full and complete liberal arts experience, and the current system enables students to graduate with a fuller understanding of the world and a better overall education. Yet many of America’s elite colleges provide high-quality education with a lower credit requirement.

The three oldest, most prestigious colleges in the United States are generally considered to be Harvard University, Yale University, and Princeton University. At each of these schools, students take no more than four classes per semester. But it’s not only the most prestigious schools in the country that see the danger in a five course-per semester load. The national average of “courses required for graduation” at major four-year colleges is thirty, a stunning ten courses lower than the forty required for graduation from WU.

Administrators at schools with lower credit requirements argue that taking five separate classes prevents students from focusing on any one course with adequate depth. Most students give the requirements at WU a lukewarm rating, although many appreciate the notion that having to take several different kinds of classes is beneficial and a crucial part of a liberal arts education. The problem, most feel, is not the diversity of the requirements but the quantity of them, which prevents substantive exploration of all, or even most, of the courses being taken. In response to large classloads and lengthy weekdays, students regularly skip large chunks of reading and essentially fake their way through assignments in order to complete a sufficient amount of work and still make respectable marks.

Having a college full of students who devote hours of time to figuring how to read the least amount material possible and “BS” their way through papers and tests cannot be the intended goal of WU’s general education requirement, and yet it is the reality. If you find this inaccurate or melodramatic, consider the number of students who seek out “blow-off” classes to take each semester. Over the years, such classes have been identified by the student body and are passed around in a kind of academic black market where one can get the low-down on the professors and courses that demand the least effort and commitment. Overworked students enroll themselves in “Dino Bio,” or “The Geology of National Parks,” not because they have the faintest bit of curiosity about these subjects, but because friends have told them these classes are “easy A’s.”

Luckily, the solution to this problem is a simple one: lower the credits required for graduation so students need to take only four classes per semester. Such a change would help improve student attitudes toward their classes, greatly reduce the “blow-off” class phenomenon, and, most importantly, give students a chance to delve into topics and issues they’re most interested in-something they are prevented from doing now without having their grade point average suffer a serious drop. The administration should rethink the consequences of its graduation requirement, consider the negative effect such a requirement is having on student learning, and implement the necessary reforms to correct these problems.