If you were at the budget all-campus address last Monday, you probably couldn’t help but notice how the comment and question session quickly turned into a fight over the value of USEM, or as us old timers call it, CORE.
Now, even though that wasn’t the central theme of President Cullinan’s speech that day, I couldn’t help but think about my feelings about CORE: it is a valuable and worthwhile course that prepares students for the rest of their endeavors in college, but has maintained a reputation here at Southern Oregon University as a freshman time-waster.
As a student that went through all three terms of the pre-requisite standard class, I feel there is one reason why CORE has gained a bad rap: the lack of consistency between the curriculum of each teacher. I remember staying up late writing reading responses each week, while my friends in other classes were only assigned a few for their portfolio due at the end of the term. While other CORE teachers let their students choose their topics for their gigantic group project, my teacher assigned us topics surrounding issues that face third world countries. At times, I felt completely ripped off, and it wasn’t even an honors section.
However, I know that CORE has made changes as it has transitioned into USEM. Along with the traditional requirements, it has now acquired a new emphasis on community involvement, beginning with the volunteer project that USEM students participated in their first week at SOU. These projects also inspired one freshman, Tanner Cowens, to head a “Rock Against Hunger” concert last term.
Even though the consistency of CORE was uneven when I was a freshman, I have to agree with the ideas that Vice President of Student Affairs Jonathan Eldridge stated at the address last Monday, that USEM is a place where students hone their writing and reading skills to enhance critical thinking, a trait that employers desire today. Additionally, it teaches the kind of writing and public speaking skills that all general education and upper division professors require.
Out of the people who I have spoken to about their CORE/USEM experiences, the result is about half and half; some hated it and some loved it. I was one of them that loved it.
Before I set to get my thoughts out in words, I pilfered through my computer and would like to share an excerpt of my final CORE assignment, a “letter” to incoming students: “CORE is a class unlike any other. It gives you the basics for survival in college. Some hate it and others tolerate it, but I believe you take from it what you put into it. Remember, you are now paying for your education and you must get your money’s worth out of it. CORE will teach you things about yourself you never realized, if you let it. So, my advice to incoming freshmen would be to take advantage of this experience.”
These are words I still believe in, and they represent a mindset that I trust could help the poor standing that USEM has gained at our university.