School of Communication changes academic requirements

The School of Communication (SoC) faculty voted on Friday in favor of eliminating the requirement that all communication students complete a second major outside of the SoC.

However, this ruling has a long way to go before it can become official. The decision is subject to approval from the University of Miami Faculty Senate and administration.

“It’s smart of them to rethink this,” executive vice president and provost Thomas LeBlanc said. “I am confident that the Faculty Senate will go along with the school’s recommendation.”

The Faculty Senate has not weighed the pros and cons because the issue has not yet been brought before it, said Robyn Hardeman, secretary of the Faculty Senate.

“It would be extremely premature for School of Communication students to alter their plans based on only reports of the faculty vote,” said Paul Driscoll, the SoC’s vice dean of academic affairs, in a statement.

He also recommended that students continue working with their advisers, which are now assigned based on major, to ensure that they are on track to graduate.

For now, students are required to continue following the academic bulletin that was in place the year they entered the university. In accordance with the bulletin, each SoC student must choose a second major in the university curriculum, in addition to completing requirements for a communication major.

No decisions have been made regarding whether students will be able to switch bulletin years, or even if the new policy will be in place for students entering in the fall 2012 semester under the 2012-2013 bulletin, Driscoll said.

While Driscoll anticipates that many students will still choose to complete the second major, SoC students’ opinions are divided .

“I think that it diversifies the community even more in communications because you bring something to the table other than our common interest,” said Jacob Katz, a freshman majoring in electronic media and psychology. “It enhances the whole learning environment.”

However, senior Maeva Lesparre, who is majoring in advertising and psychology, does not understand why the SoC requires a second major when other schools do not.

“I would be focusing more on what I like and what I do the best because right now my second major is psychology, but I don’t really like it,” Lesparre said. “I just took it because I had to.”

LeBlanc said he takes issue with the requirement rather than the idea.

“They can’t study abroad. They can’t minor. They can’t perform in the orchestra,” LeBlanc said. “We shouldn’t be placing those kind of barriers to a student’s education.”

The School of Education underwent a similar change, voting to remove the double major requirement for elementary education majors because of additional credit and internship requisites. The process took less than two semesters to complete, said Shawn Post, associate dean of the School of Education.

The plan to remove the SoC’s double major requirement should be discussed by the end of the spring semester, but the decision made may not go into effect immediately, LeBlanc said.

The SoC faculty also voted last December to allow students to take more than 40 credit hours within the school. With this decision, however, the SoC will no longer be accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

As a result, communication students may also declare minors in the following programs as of this semester: advertising, communication studies, electronic media, journalism, motion pictures, public relations and visual journalism.