Ah, freshman year: A time for changes, a time for new experiences and a time for Castleton State’s infamous Soundings program. The general education and liberal arts program usually draws groans, eye rolls, even some sympathy from upperclassmen. However, after an April 13 vote, a majority of Castleton’s faculty hopes students’ outlooks could change on the fine arts program.
A change in the program proposed by Castleton’s Davis Committee was passed by a narrow 35-28 margin and those changes mean that not only will freshmen be required to attend Soundings events, but CSC juniors will also be required.
Incoming freshmen will be required to attend six events their first semester, as was done previously. However, instead of attending another six in the spring, students will only need to attend four.
After a year long break, those students will be required to return to the program to attend just three more events and conclude their experience with a synthesis paper that explains their general education experience citing at least one Soundings event and how it relates to their majors and long term goals. As always, students will have multiple options as to the events they may attend.
“We wanted to offer students the chance to experience Soundings later in their academic career when they can apply it to what they are learning in the fields,” said Davis Committee member, Melisse Pinto.
But students told about the new plan have been widely opposed to the idea.
Early education major Madge Scondras is a junior at Castleton this year and has already paid her dues to the Soundings program, but still feels strongly about the changes and even sympathizes with future Castleton students who will be required to meet the new expectations.
“Your junior and senior years are your busiest years,” said Scondras. “We already have enough work without having to sit through more Soundings and write a paper on it!”
Freshman Aric Marcille agrees.
“When you are taking 3000 and 4000 level classes, the last thing you want to worry about is Soundings,” he said. “Especially when you’ve already done it your freshman year. It’s better to do it then and be done with it.”
But the idea of students simply being “done with it” is exactly the attitude the committee is hoping to change. Members said they see the revised program as a way to bring clarity to their general education experience.
Students who have a heavy work load or are taking on internships their junior year also have the option of completing the Soundings requirement their senior year.
“I think there’s enough flexibility where students won’t have a problem getting it done,” said Pinto.
But for many students it’s not about work load or time constraints, it’s about lack of interest in the events. Ryan Baldinelli is a junior at Castleton who is still trying to complete his Soundings semester from freshman year.
“Personally, I think it’s a waste of students’ time,” said Baldinelli. “It should be changed, but adding more work to what we already have isn’t the way to make us want to do it or get something out of it.”
Baldinelli offered a proposed change for the program.
“Maybe only make it three Soundings events. That way you cut the number of total events in half,” he said. “Students will still get the experience and accounting costs will be cut. It would work well and students would actually go and take interest because it’s only three events a semester.”
But for now, the vote is in. Despite opposition from both students and faculty members, the class of 2014 will be the guinea pigs for the new Soundings design.