Over the past few weeks, controversy has broken out in the Templeton Honors College as its Honors Council attempted to get a constitution passed by a majority of the students. Despite backing from the dean and student leadership of the THC, the constitution failed to pass in its original form.
The recently-written constitution would enforce changes in the Honors College, requiring Honors Council involvement for incoming students and setting up new rules for maintaining that involvement.
The THC is a six-year-old program which accepts 24 academically talented incoming students each year and has replacement classes for most of the University’s core courses. A minimum GPA of 3.4 is required to remain in the college. Its Honors Council is in its first year of existence.
Some members of the college believe the constitution to be unnecessary and think it may change the face of the Honors College entirely. It runs the risk of limiting creativity or making too many activities mandatory for new students.
“I fear a change in the idea of what the college is,” said senior Isaac Gillespie at an open meeting to discuss the constitution. “I would hate it if that changed too dramatically.”
Some think that the constitution will not prohibit creativity but encourage it in an organized way.
“I’m concerned we will become provincial,” says senior Honors Council student president Christin Klaassen, who was instrumental in creating the constitution. “I’m all for character building, but we don’t want to make a box around it. If we want the Honors College to stay relatively the same, we need a way to keep it.”
The new guidelines encourage inter-year bonding and put students on specific committees geared toward activities. Committees would plan and take part in different events or assemblies and join together to make up the Honors Council.
Some of these proposed changes have been encouraged by the new dean of the Honors College, theology professor Chris Hall. Dean Hall puts an emphasis on the spiritual and character formation that he hopes the students can enhance and develop through the Honors College, turning them into Christian leaders.
Related to the controversy over the constitution are recent changes regarding the mandatory GPA (currently 3.4) and more stringent enforcement of the GPA requirement, as well as a broadening of the courses which can count as THC electives.
Many think that how the Honors College handles cohort creativity and GPA requirements was better before.
“It’s already not that restrictive,” says Gillespie, “so why change it now and scare off prospectives and some people already here?”
Others think the constitution will not bring about too much change.
“I don’t think the constitution will ruin any spontaneity,” sophomore Ariana Miller said. “It’s amended pretty easily.”
The current impasse the constitutional process has reached came about because too few students had signed the constitution by April 8. To pass, more than half the Honors College students had to sign on or email their approval of the bill, and that goal was not reached.
To address some of the concerns, a revision of the draft is underway. In the next week or so, the council will re-present the constitution to the Honors College students and try to gain more support.
Students hope the constitution can maintain the creativity of the Honors College without trying to harness it fully.
“I was surprised to get into the Honors College,” Gillespie said. “I am surprised to still be in the Honors College. And I would like to continue to be surprised by what comes out of the Honors College.”