WT Categories Eliminated
Next year, Oberlin students will no longer be bound by the three-category Winter Term project classification system after a vote two weeks ago eliminated the classifications in an attempt to simplify Winter Term policies and encourage higher standards. This vote reversed a policy passed in 2000 that required students to declare their projects to be either academic study, field experience or personal growth.
The new policy was recommended by the faculty’s Winter Term Committee. In its proposal, the committee cited confusion among both students and advisors about the categories as an impetus for the change, and emphasized the importance of faculty and staff advisors encouraging students to develop projects that are “relevant, rigorous, experiential, and educationally rewarding.”
According to Winter Term committee members, the new policy reflects the emphasis on experience-based education and advising in the College’s Strategic Plan.
“We are always supposed to be thinking about advising,” said Brian Alegant, chair of the Winter Term Committee and professor of music theory.
While the previous policy allowed students to count only one personal growth project toward the three required for graduation, the new policy eliminates this option. The policy is intended to leave students and their advisors with more responsibility for the educational value of Winter Term projects.
“I don’t want to legislate that,” said Alegant. “It’s your education.”
The Winter Term Committee also proposed eliminating half-credit Winter Term projects, which made up only six percent of last year’s projects. The General Faculty rejected this second proposal.
In its report, the committee wrote that it believes “a full-credit option is more likely to lead to a deeper learning experience than two half-credit projects.” Faculty members objected to the proposal because it would eliminate half-credit courses during Winter Term, and because advisors would no longer be able to award a half-credit to students who only complete part of their projects.
College sophomore and student senator Ben Klebanoff opposed both policies, which he said signaled a “disconnect between the committee and the student body.” He also stated that there should be a greater emphasis on students advising each other based on their own Winter Term experiences, rather than on faculty and staff advising students.