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Opinion

New Falcon 5 program may have negative results

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April 24, 2014

The new Student Senate was underway for the first time Tuesday night since the most recent elections.

I was in attendance on behalf of the Environmental Corps of Sustainability (ECOS) club, but also ended up hearing a presentation by Anna Hunter about the Department of Student Life’s new Falcon 5 program. It is planned to be rolled out next fall. I had never heard of the program before and I gathered some thoughts about it.

The Falcon 5 program is a new way to think about all extracurricular activities on campus. It organizes all the activities by breaking them into three separate levels, based on the amount of commitment that will be required by participation. These levels are to be completed by the end of graduation for a “very, very prestigious” award. In addition, the current OrgSync website will be changed to FalconSync.

The focus of the change is for incoming freshman students. The number presented was that only 35 percent of freshman join groups first year. The school wants freshman students to join early and fast by encouragement from Falcon 5 and the incentive for the certificate. Without these new developments, Hunter argues freshmen are more likely to remain uninvolved outside academia all four years.

Hunter also spoke about the importance of extracurriculars (or “co-curriculars,” as she called them) and how students will graduate next to people with the same degree. I am skeptical that the new certificate will just become a new norm and I am very afraid it might become a gimmick that is unrecognizable on resumés and applications to jobs, internships and graduate school.

This certificate seems like a blanket award of accomplishment that will not do justice for students that are more involved than others. A logical question is, “Will the president of three different clubs gets the same nod as someone who came to one meeting?” To combat this, I think there is a capstone writing component to explain in detail your personal involvement. But does the employer link to, and read, the paper through a resume? I would think not.

While Falcon 5 is meant to be “encouraging,” the verb that came to my mind was imposing, and it felt like another degree requirement. As a transfer student that has filtered my credits through three colleges, this is daunting. Worrying about the simple graduation requirements is already enough.

Besides transfer students, there are also commuters from long distances, people that work and also combinations of all three. This certificate may only be achievable by students that have uncommon access for time.

Being perfectly organized is a constant struggle for all of us, so it makes sense to organize all the extracurriculars to clearly lay out what is offered to new students of all types. However, I think the different levels may cause unnecessary clouding and take away from what an extracurricular means. Extracurriculars are meant to be extra. Students that seek extracurriculars without an incentive will be forced to be genuine. It is a chance to experience how to cut a path with an idea, some faculty guidance and lots of freedom to make it happen.

I remember being a freshman and I wanted to only worry about my classes. By the second semester, I eased my way into a couple clubs and starting writing for the school newspaper.

Fast forward a couple years and I am at a new school, feeling like a freshman again in regards to involvement. I needed time to get comfortable in this new place and figure out how it worked before jumping straight into extracurriculars. It is important to recognize that everybody is different.

To seek a better involvement rate, I think that advisors should make recommendations at the mandatory meetings before every semester. The involvement fair is also before every semester and should continue to do a good job of advertising and gaining a good turnout.

One of the extracurriculars I am involved in stemmed from a class. Perhaps the professors should sheperd students into clubs a bit more, especially since many are advising them.

Jack Haren is a journalism student with a political science minor. His free time is spent snowboarding, skateboarding, reading, writing, designing, listening, experimenting and living minimally. In the future he wishes to freelance and travel the world.