Constitution test requirement questioned

By Amy Goldhagen

Students might not have to pass a State and U.S. Constitution test in order to graduate from NIU, the only state university that requires such a test.

NIU Legal Counsel George Shur, said the test requirement applies to the public school system, but not state universities. The Undergraduate Catalog refers to the Illinois School Code Chapter 122, Section 27-3 which states students must demonstrate knowledge of the State and Federal Constitutions by passing a university test

James Norris, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, brought the test issue to the University Legal Council. Norris questioned the requirement, citing that all Illinois students must pass a similar test before graduating from high school.

When the ULC researched the matter, they found that the School Code is only applicable to the public school system, not state universities.

Anthony Scaperlanda, member of the University Curriculum Council, said the UCC has passed a proposal to delete the test requirement. However, Scaperlanda said the proposed deletion must also be passed by the Undergraduate Coordinating Council before it can take effect.

The proposal will be forwarded to the UCC within the next two weeks, but Scaperlanda said he is unsure when they will vote on the proposal.

If passed, the proposal will immediately take effect, thus deleting the test requirement. Associate Provost Lou Jean Moyer said the UCC meets only once a month and is doubtful any action will take place before Nov. 1.

However, if passed, the test deletion will not apply to all students. Moyer said students in the College of Education will still be required to pass a constitution test as part of their certification.

A proposal has not been made to replace the test requirement. Scaperlanda said the faculty will be responsible for making recommendations for additional General Education requirements.

Although it was Norris that proposed the deletion of the test requirement, he also stressed the importance of having a working knowledge of the history and functioning of political and social institutions. “I would have no objection whatsoever if the University makes a requirement for its students to possess a working knowledge of the systems of our government. The problem is that the requirement should not be justified by a law which is not applicable to the University,” he said.