Orgies do not keep rock stars or politicians from their work, but the same cannot be said for student-led classes at UCSB.
The College of Creative Studies has cancelled four of its six colloquia, or student-led classes, scheduled for Spring Quarter after reports of abuse in a similar program at UC Berkeley. Colloquia have been restricted to one per discipline in CCS, with a maximum of two units available.
Students in a student-led male sexuality class at the University of California at Berkeley allegedly engaged in an orgy and visited a strip club where they watched one of their instructors have sex on stage. Berkeley faculty members suspended the class after the student instructors failed to attend a meeting with the faculty sponsor of the course. As a result, concerns were raised about the legitimacy and effectiveness of colloquia at UCSB, CCS Provost William Ashby said.
“The context of the student-led Berkeley classes precipitated us taking a look at our own colloquia,” he said. “We should have been looking at it anyway. Berkeley was more the catalyst. The concern was that with the large number of colloquia continuing it would drop students from the ordinary class work.”
CCS will implement additional measures to deter any future abuse of the program such as setting a prerequisite of 100 or more units for students who lead the colloquia and requiring faculty to be present for about half the classes, Ashby said.
“We discovered the policies in existence in regards to the colloquia weren’t being followed,” he said. “There was no review or coordination of them. There’s going to be a reaffirmation of what was already in place.”
All four of the cancelled colloquia were in literature, disappointing five student leaders and a host of potential students. Sophomore CCS literature major Emily Maggard, who was scheduled to co-lead a class about women’s characters in Native American literature, said the administration’s review of policy and cancellation of classes was excessive.
“I can see why they did it,” she said. “They’re afraid of criticism from parents and other educational figures. I think it was pretty stupid to deprive students of educational opportunities because of something that happened at a different school. Somebody fucked up somewhere. It wasn’t at Santa Barbara or creative studies. It’s pretty lame.”
The colloquia attract students through their specialized subject matters and student-driven methodology, junior CCS computer science major Travis Cannell said.
“The difference is you’re paying attention to students, and that makes it a different experience because you’re not learning from a teacher who has taught the same thing over and over for 20 years,” he said. “It also involves the students more because you’re being taught by someone your own age, and it’s more of a panel-type discussion, where everyone’s input contributes to the greater idea or message.”
Ashby said there has not been a lot of abuse in the past with colloquia at CCS, but if policy continues unchanged, there is potential for abuse. Colloquia in their current form started Winter Quarter of 1989. Maggard said the colloquia’s relatively clean slate should be proof they can work.
“I could see how there could be downsides. Berkeley is a great example,” she said. “Some students may not be experienced enough. However, I think the marginal benefits outweigh the marginal cost. If we did have too much freedom there would be more problems earlier.”
The remaining Spring colloquia were streamlined with the new policy on a first-come first-served basis. Students who submitted their colloquium proposals earliest in each discipline were retained and the remaining classes were dropped.