The Michigan Daily - Friday, May 23, 1986- Page 11
Students dissatisfied with role on advisory committees
person before they wrote their
Faigel said this may have been
the result of a confrontational at-
mosphere between Johnson and
students concerned about rape.
The review was spurred by a sit-in
of Johnson's office after he was
quoted in Metropolitan Detroit
magazine as saying that the
University's administrators do not
discuss the rape problem on
campus publicly because it would
hurt the University's image. John-
son said he primarily wanted ex-
perts from the University's coun-
seling center on the committee
because they would be responsible
for implementing the program.
looks at Intro
(Continued from Page 1)
and the Residential College. An
estimated 85-90% of University un-
dergraduates pass through the
The issues raised by the committe
" The lack of coordination among the
different courses and the absence of
an "underlying philosophy of teaching
" The lack of evaluations to determine
the program's success.
" The use of teching assistants in in-
troductory composition courses.
" The poor quality of student com-
positions throughout LSA.
Committee member and history
Prof. Rudi Lindner said the only ac-
tion being contemplated now is a fall
survey of faculty opinion on the role of
writing in LSA.
Committee members hastened to
point out that they were not
necessarily criticizing the introduc-
tory program, but rather raising
areas in which the program can im-
The various introductory com-
position courses are in theory over-
seen by the English Composition
Board (ECB) said Prof. Deborah
Keller-Cohen (ECB director). In
practice, she added, this control "has
not been actively pursued."
THE ECB was created in the late
1970s "in response to a faculty sense
that student writing was in trouble
and we needed to do something
major," recalled Keller-Cohen, who
recently assumed the directorship.
Keller-Cohen acknowledged the
need to come up with an underlying
philosophy of composition instruction.
One experienced teaching assistant in
the English Department, who asked to
remain unnamed, said that such a
philosophy already exists. "There are
two elements," he said, "to be able to
teach writing in a variety of
disciplines and to teach critical
thinking." He said these goals are
stressed in the training of teaching
The teaching assistant also said
many of his colleagues teach in more
than one introductory composition
program, such as the Honors Great
Books class and English 125, therby
supplying a degree of continuity. , ,
Students were further upset
when the committee recommen-
ded, and the regents approved, a
rape center with a smaller staff
and budget than students said was
needed. In addition, the commit-
tee and the regents did not in-
crease money for such preven-
tive measures as improved
lighting and more frequent service
of the Night Owl van system
"Committees can be valuable
and have been valuable, but
they're basically powerless,"
Faisel said. "They only play an
"Ad hoc committees serve a
purpose. Unfortunately, they do
not serve the needs of students,"
THE ISSUE of evaluating students'
writing improvement in general is
more subtle. According to William
Ingram, director of freshman
English, the problem of evaluating
writing achievement "is a nationwide
dilemna, and is centrally important.
The person who devises a means of
solving this problem to everyone's
satisfaction will be instantly famous
and nationally so."
This makes it difficult to ascertain
the effectiveness of introductory
composition. "We don't have the in-
formation -... to know if it's
working," said keller-Cohen.
While some think the evaluation
task is impossiblem Keller-Cohen
feels some type of evaluation is
Ingram acknowledges that the 75
percent use of teaching assistants in
freshmen English is high, but he says
it is "not as much as was claimed."
THE TEACHING assistant inter-
viewed suggested some advantages of
teaching assistant use.
"To have someone closer in age and
experience (to the student) . . . helps
immensely," he said. He added that
"in my opinion (the teaching
assistants he knows) are more than
competent." He also said, with finan-
cial constraints, the use of teaching
assistants allowed smaller classes
and more contact with the instructor.
The final issue concerned the low
quality of student compositions after
they have passed through the com-
Keller-Cohen said "some faculty
have said I'm teaching an upper level
course and these students still can't
construct sentences! What went on in
introductory composition?' "
Lindner said, "speaking for myself,
I'm disappointed in the writing skills
of many of the students that I teach."
Keller-Cohen, Ingram and the
teaching assistant all agreed that the
problems with student writing exten-
ded beyond the scope of introductory
composition. Ingram compared lear-
ning writing to learning physical
education: "You can't take it once
and then let it go."
Ingram said the lack of writing
requirements in courses other than
composition allowed students to get
said Josephson. "They adivse. students are more concerned committees are in affecting
They do not set policy for the about the means. They're going to University policy, students say
University. Students and faculty be held accountable for the they are inadequate as a primary
may agree on an issue but if the process because they have to source for student input. In ad-
appropriate vice president doesn't implement it. Students can say we dition to being usually outnum-
agree, the policy is going to be need to spend more money, and bered by faculty and ad-
discarded." everyone will agree. But after- ministrators, student leaders say
Johnson attributed student wards, students go back to their students are inhibited from par-
frustrations to different attitudes student things. We have to figure ticipating.
students bring to committees. out where this money is going to "There are some good com-
"Students have more of a stake in come from." mittees like the University Coun-
the outcome," he said. "Non- Regardless of how effective See STUDENTS, Page 14