The Right to Alternative Courses
By: Maxwell Velikodny
Should Core 100 be a mandatory class that all students attending the College of Staten Island have to take?
Without knowing what COR 100 is or taking the class, it is difficult to answer this question.
The College of Staten Island defines COR 100 as a “required general education course that introduces CSI students to contemporary America’s constitutional democracy, multiracial society, and market economy, using the tools of the social sciences.
The course seeks historical perspective by examining three formative periods in U.S. history: the American Revolution and debate over the Constitution, the African American freedom struggle from slavery through the civil rights movement, and the evolving relationship between government regulation and the market economy during the 20th century.”
At first glance, the Core 100 class sounds very interesting and educational. It seems like a civics course that wishes to endow students with knowledge of American politics, civil rights, and the market economy.
However, students that have taken this course have various opinions on its worth and qualities that would say otherwise.
Based on informal interviews, grievances from Freshman currently taking COR 100, and my general observations, I believe most people have voiced negative concerns over the COR 100 curriculum.
Most students informed me their instructors did not follow the COR 100 guidelines. For instance, students claimed they had irrelevant assignments, were graded through arbitrary standards, did not have a clear syllabus or structure, and had wasted their time taking COR 100.
Students generally claim the quality of COR 100 classes were poor. Perhaps one this is because of the lack of full-time faculty teaching the course.
In 2017-2018, there were a total of 80 sections of COR 100. Only 12 of these sections were taught by full-time faculty, while the rest were taught by adjuncts. There were only six fulltime professors teaching COR 100 in 2017-2018
In 2018-2019, there were a total of 86 sections of COR 100. Only 11 of these classes were taught by full-time faculty. What’s worse, there were only two fulltime professors teaching COR 100 in 2018-2019.
The quality of a class largely depends on the professor, their education, and the ability to explain concepts. Adjuncts have limited experience with this because they usually only finished a Master’s Degree without partaking in a Ph D. program.
The statistics may offer a possibility as to why the quality of COR 100 is believed to be so poor by students.
There are actually alternatives to the dreaded COR 100 class. Since COR 100 is a student Pathways requirement to graduate, as shown on CUNY Degreeworks, there are supposed to be various options to fulfill the requirement to graduate.
For example, classes like African American History: 1619 to the Present (AAD 160), The Black Experience (AAD 167), and American Government and Politics (POL 100) are supposed to be alternatives to COR 100.
However, the College of Staten Island mandates students to take COR 100 without justification. POL 100 is arguably a much better class when it comes to explaining American Politics, Government, and Civics.
As a result, CSI forces students to take COR 100 because they need it to take many of the more advanced to graduate.
There is a solution to this dilemma. The College of Staten Island is going against CUNY compliance by forcing students to take this class. Meaning, CSI is going against CUNY guidelines for mandating its courses, which can result in a potential lawsuit.
The Pathways Students Rights, I.2. says, “Students may choose freely among the courses the campuses have designated for the different areas of the Common Core, assuming students meet course qualifications.
If more than one course is offered in a Common Core area, no single course in that area may be required or prohibited, again assuming that students meet course qualifications.”
The Pathways Students Rights guideline states the College cannot force or prohibit students from taking a specified course, which it currently is doing.
Not only is the College forcing students to take COR 100, but it is prohibiting students from taking anything other than COR 100 for the pathways section.
In conclusion, students should have the right to choose whether or not they should take COR 100.
Not only is CSI not allowed to mandate students to take courses, but students are capable enough in deciding whether a course is worth the time and effort.
Whether or not you like or dislike COR 100, the College cannot mandate a student to take it. Students should have the choice to seek alternative classes, which is outlined in the Pathways to Students Rights guidelines.