The 140 Inquisition: Apathy?s answer

Andrew Fingerett

The provost’s office recently issued a press release discussing steps the university will take to meet the demands of a hamstrung budget. The number of full-time entering freshmen will be reduced from 4,100 to 3,500 by prioritizing prospective students with higher scores and local residency.

But it’s not just prospective students and transfers who will be affected. The university will be cracking down on returning students as well. Financial aid appeals will be granted far less frequently for students who haven’t met satisfactory academic requirements, and students with a 1.0 GPA will no longer be placed on probation. They will be disqualified.

Perhaps most interesting is what the release calls the ‘140 inquisition,’ which will mandate that all students with 140 units or more meet with their department chair to determine whether or not they even know what their degree requirements are. A hold will be placed on these students until they do so.

Some may think these policies are unfair. I support them wholeheartedly.

The budget crisis must be dealt with, and the only just way to carve students out of the system is to identify those who simply can’t produce a satisfactory academic performance. There is no reason a student with a 1.0 GPA should be able to keep his or her seat at the expense of a qualified incoming freshman who hasn’t had a chance. Scores that plunge this far below a reasonable mark do not indicate a student who lacks ability ‘- it indicates a student who lacks either a work ethic, or any prescience concerning his or her own life. No leniency is warranted.

The cause of the 140 inquisition is understandably more complex. These are students who have simply remained at CSUN for too long and have taken classes far in excess of the 120-unit requirement. Do they lack ability? No. Do they lack ambition? Maybe, but probably not. I have a feeling the culprit behind the lingering student is simply confusion.
CSUN students tend to change majors quite frequently. I’ve met people who have changed majors up to five times. Many of them work hard, but have no idea what they want to do with their lives.

Who can these students talk to about this specific problem, which seems so pervasive at this university and is now affecting the budget? I would hypothesize that these students know what they want, but external pressures such as parents, professors and popular opinion compel them to pursue a life course that isn’t their own. These pressures lead to confusion. Confusion leads to more units, more units lead to delayed graduation and delayed graduation leads to budget problems.

Perhaps the 140 inquisition will help put these students on track, but it feels as though the discussions these students will have with their chairs come about 80 units too late. Students shouldn’t declare a major simply to earn a bachelor’s degree, and the university should take steps to ensure students are entering programs that match their own wishes for their own futures.

As a graduating senior who has been at CSUN for four years, and is leaving in time with units to spare, I’ve realized the ingredients required for a timely graduation are simply hard work and confidence in one’s desires. That means being at CSUN for a specific reason, and not simply coming to this university because one doesn’t know what else to do.

The provost’s plan provides a logical (and refreshingly less lenient) approach to a short-term solution. But as a long-term solution, these issues should be identified and addressed early on in a college student’s career.

And finally, a message to incoming freshmen: Know what you want before declaring a major. Make sure it’s in accordance with what will make you happy. The bottom line is that this is all that matters. Think about it ‘- hard. You have two years of general education to do so. You’ll save everyone a lot of heartache in the end.