Major Issues with Minors

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Pacific University Registrar Discusses Potential Changes to Minor Degrees

Pacific University has never established a concrete, robust policy regarding the attainment of minors. But Registrar Nikol Roubidoux is looking to change that.

   Currently in discussions with faculty, Roubidoux and the Registrar’s Office are addressing that very issue, and revising a plan to create a more robust, reasonable, and standard set of policies for obtaining degree minors. These efforts are driven by her desire for Pacific students to further enhance their learning rather than just rely on substitutions and waivers to obtain a suite of minor degrees.

   In an interview with The Pacific Index, Roubidoux explained, “[The plan] is about two years in the works. The conversation about minors started just after I came on board here at Pacific.” She explained that “although we offer them,” there is no official definition of “what a minor is, what it’s intended to be, what kinds of minors students should be considering to complement their major.”

   The only set policy guideline in the catalog of the university states that a “minor advisor” must be in place for every student pursuing a minor degree. However, this policy is not regularly enforced, and often neglected. She later said that a few students have been “collecting minors,” only having a few credits that differ between each degree with the remaining credits covered by substitutions and waivers. Some students gather as many as four or five minors, bringing into question the full validity of the academic pursuit.

   As a result, the Registrar’s Office, which is responsible for upholding policies relating to academics at Pacific, believed that something should be done; specifically, Roubidoux is suggesting that students be required to obtain at least eight “unique credits,” or credits that don’t also count towards their major. This would lower the number of substitutions and waivers given out to students, making the minor degree appear more like an accurate collection of the student’s knowledge and skills rather than just a token piece of paper.

   Roubidoux’s proposal is currently in “an approval process,” and already has been presented to several different committees across the campus to earn their approval and make revisions. The next committee to view the proposal and suggest edits is the Student Senate, the primary body which represents students at Pacific and communicates any major changes to the student body.

   Roubidoux explained that there were some “concerns with the initial language” of the proposal. The two main changes proposed are: One, a new requirement that “eight unique credits per program” must be earned by students who pursue a minor degree through a Pacific minor program; although some “overlap” of credits can still occur when the minor degrees are similar, they can never be an “exact replica” of each other. And two, a new limit of three minor degrees per student. Another proposed change removes the current, leniently enforced, “January requirement” for students to declare a new minor degree.

   Although the proposal does not state a deadline for when a minor degree must be declared, Roubidoux said that when declaring new minor degrees, “the earlier the better.” Even so, students will still not be required to have a minor.

   Although this proposal aims to benefit learning, not all students are likely to agree. Minors look good on resumes, and it is reasonable for students to want as many accolades as possible. Requiring them to take more credits per minor will reduce the number of students who can complete two or even just one minor because some students already struggle to fit in all the major requirements, work-study, and athletic demands of their chosen commitments.

   But Roubidoux argues that these changes “fulfill the intended purpose” of minor degree programs by ensuring that students with minor degrees have specialized knowledge that employers want rather than just a paper with a designation by it.

   Roubidoux stated that, if enacted, this policy may take effect in the fall term of 2024. Although “nothing is set in stone,” she is hopeful that the plan will be approved soon, so that minor degrees can “stand on [their] own,” without excessive waivers and substitutions. The Registrar’s Office is asking students to give their input regarding these proposed changes to the minor degree programs: “We definitely want student input,” Roubidoux said. She can be reached via email at — Troy Pigman


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