MSA Forum ponders changes to GPT requirement

MSA also discussed the newspaper pilot program and late-night busing trials.

by Jens Krogstad

Minnesota Student Association Forum members heard presentations Tuesday on a handful of topics, including one on possible changes to the Graduation Proficiency Test, at an unofficial meeting in St. Paul.

The Forum could not vote on any proposals, however, because not enough members attended.

Scott LeBlanc, MSA academics and services chairman, updated members on proposed changes to GPT requirements and said a change was nearly in place.

“The GPT could be dead as early as February,” he said.

MSA Forum members were elated by the development.

“Woo-hoo!” Vice President Jeff Nath yelled after hearing the news.

The GPT is a five-hour, not-for-credit test that evaluates a student’s ability to understand a foreign language. Students must pass the test to earn liberal arts degrees.

LeBlanc said the plan has yet to be approved and that the recommendation by the University Senate committee on second language education still needs to be approved by two more committees before it is official.

He said the recommendation would make the GPT optional. Students could meet their foreign language requirement by completing four semesters’ worth of courses or by passing the GPT, but the University would not require both.

It is still uncertain, however, at what point in language education students would be allowed to take the test. The rules would be the same for current and incoming students.

Currently, students enrolled in the first or second semester of a language are not allowed to take the test. Only students in their third or fourth semester of a language – or those who have never taken a language class at the University – may take the test.

LeBlanc also updated members on the campus-wide USA Today Collegiate Readership Program pilot program, which will distribute free newspapers to students all over campus starting Tuesday. It will run through the end of the semester and will then be evaluated.

LeBlanc also said a University Senate subcommittee is revising a rule that states each of the University’s departments cannot have more than 60 percent of its classes at peak hours, from 10 a.m. to

2 p.m.

Under the new rule, departments that go over the 60 percent threshold would lose priority in classroom selection.

The penalty is a response to registration problems earlier this month that caused about 700 University courses to be improperly categorized as canceled, making it impossible for students to register for those classes.

Facilities and housing Chairman Tom Zearley said he met with University administration and Parking and Transportation Services about MSA’s late-night bus program. He said they agreed the program was a success and that he would work with them to get a permanent plan in place.

“Realistically, I’m hoping for the (program to start) beginning next year at the latest,” he said.

The MSA constitution requires that one meeting each semester be held on the St. Paul campus. Nath said the requirement is a tradition and gives St. Paul students a chance to attend a Forum meeting more easily.

However, he said, the St. Paul meetings are usually sparsely