March 25, 2009

Phys Ed Auditing Disallowed

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Starting next semester, students will have to think twice about cutting their physical education classes. Whether they are shredding down the icy slopes of Ithaca on a snowboard or falling asleep in Relaxation and Stress Management, attendance for physical education courses will be crucial starting next semester when the audit option will no longer be available to Cornell students.
According to Alan Gantert, director of physical education, PeopleSoft will no longer be capable of allowing the zero credit (or audit) option in their software — P.E. courses will all officially be one-credit starting next semester. When courses are taken for audit, students are expected to attend class and do the required work, but they do not receive credit or a grade for it. With that in mind, most students take courses for audit when they do not need the credit or feel that they do not have any particular obligation towards it aside from their curiosity and interest.
“It would be nice to have the option to audit a [P.E.] course if I didn’t really have a commitment to it,” Daniel Jaw ’12 said.
Although Gantert agreed, he felt that the positives outweigh the negatives with this new policy.
“Personally, I liked the old system because P.E. courses could be taken for fun by students,” Gantert said. “But this [new policy] makes them commit to the course, which can also be seen as a benefit.”
Cornell also took its tight budget into consideration when the decision was made to remove the audit option.
Gantert claimed that the University wanted to create an efficient way to keep record of its funding and described it as an “internal bookkeeping system.” Depending on how many students enroll for a P.E. course, a certain amount of funds must be deposited to that particular course. For instance, if 10 students took a P.E. course for credit, while another five took the same course for audit, the course would still be funded for 15 people. However, the students who take it for audit are not under pressure to regularly attend the course, so a course funded for 15 people might only have 10 regular attendees. Therefore, without the audit option, the University is trying to eliminate these overfundings by ensuring its ability to keep track of exactly how much money the courses need and allocating only that amount of money.
Although most students take physical education courses to fulfill University requirements, some students do not mind that the audit option will no longer be available because of their genuine interest in the unique courses that Cornell offers.
“It was definitely something I never got the chance to do and never thought I would do,” Jerome Thomas ’12 said, who took Filipino kali last semester. “But I ended up taking it and loving it. I even have P.E. with the same instructor this semester.”
Joshua Liu ’12 ventured out of the ordinary as well and reiterated a similar affection for his P.E. course. He also added that students should get the credit they deserve for the sometimes intensive work.
“Why not get credit automatically for work that you do?” Liu said. “I took Thai boxing last semester, and it was one hell of a workout. I’d want credit for that.”
Even with the audit option available, students over the years have still elected to take some physical education courses for credit that are actually relevant to their future careers. According to Gantert, students have submitted numerous requests to the registrar to have P.E. courses appear on their transcripts.
“Some P.E. courses could have an impact on the future,” Gantert said. “For example, I had one student take target shooting, and he later applied for a position under the FBI. SIS [student information system] would not have been capable of doing that.”
Even when credit becomes irrelevant, students who are genuinely interested in the course are still willing to take P.E. courses in the future.
“It’s something that I can look forward to as a break in the usual academic cycle and [it] just keeps me in good spirits,” Thomas said. “Without it, I think that school would just become very boring … and I can see [myself] taking more martial arts classes in the future and [continuing] after college.”
“I’ve always wanted to fight professionally,” Liu said. “The instructor for my course, Kevin Seaman, is an actual MMA trainer and has a guy competing in the UFC. So, who knows [if it has an impact on my future]. If I end up flunking out of school, maybe?”
Other students, such as Ethan Li ’12, view the future no-audit option as a matter of practicality.
“You have to pay for most P.E. classes anyway,” Li said, who took Tai Kwon Do last semester and had to pay for both the uniform and the instructor. “That provides enough incentive for me to go to class. Since I’m already attending, I might as well take it for credit … If you’re taking [the course] for audit, it’d just be a waste of money.”
Li is not alone in worrying about spending too much money on a course.
“If I wanted to do something like yoga or spinning, I already have a gym membership for that,” Molly Johnson ’12 said. “I wouldn’t want to pay for an extra class I wasn’t getting credit for anyway.”