October 04, 2011

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 82, Issue 2

NU Beginnings: your first class for the rest of your life

Upperclassman who took NUS may be surprised by the new changes for NUB, this year's freshman seminar class. First off, Niagara University Beginnings is now worth one credit. Students will receive a letter grade that will be factored into their overall grade-point average “ a very strong motivational tool compared to past years where the class outcome was a pass or fail.

This change was the result of a general consensus among faculty and staff that the freshman class should be worth a credit. This would give the course more of an academic feel, which was a desired effect. A textbook and assignments also were added.

Dr. Kalen Churcher, faculty coordinator of NUB and assistant communications department professor, said, NUB was redesigned to not only increase students' preparedness for their college career, but to help make them more aware of the services “ both academic and more social “ available on campus. The new course covers everything from time management and study skills to diversity issues on campus.

Changes had to be made with the new curriculum. The 38 NUB sections are major specific. To better acclimate the students to their major, professors of each major are now the facilitators for the classes. This will allow students to build a relationship with someone in their department early on in their college career.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. AEP classes have the AEP faculty as their facilitators, while some other classes have an assistant dean or a staff member from the library as a facilitator.

Also new this year: The new student orientation was five days long, while in the past it was three days. Included in NSO were alcohol awareness and equality lessons, both of which were required during NUS. NU Reads, a freshmen summer reading program, was suspended from the curriculum.

Added to the NUB curriculum was two full days of diversity workshops. Student teaching assistants will lead the two days. The TAs have had 12 hours of diversity training conducted by Karen E. Edmond, professor of social work at NU.

The diversity workshops are taught by TAs so as to make the experience more relatable, said Dr. Abigail Levin, assistant professor of philosophy and a member of the NUB committee.

The TAs teach the workshops in order to make them more interesting. The seminars are not just another day of professors endlessly talking. Faculty and staff want the students to really understand the importance of diversity. Diversity days were added because that philosophy is part of NU's Vincentian mission. Plus, these days create more awareness on campus.

The diversity component plays directly to the mission of this university, which is to educate the whole person and recognize the marginalization of certain groups of people. Diversity is not just a college issue; it's not going to go away after graduation. Churcher said.

The TAs are volunteers. In the spring semester, students filled out an application and were interviewed by NUB committee members (made up of faculty, staff, administration and students). As well as having the chance to interact with the freshmen, these TAs received a larger stipend and a hooded zip-up sweater embroidered with NU Beginnings Peer Educator'

The NUB committee and TAs strive to create a more comfortable and friendly environment on campus; a home away from home, if you will.

(NUB) is an opportunity to implement a more bonded community as the program goes by, Levin said.

Share this: