NIU might retain constitution test as school policy

By Amy Goldhagen

A proposal to delete NIU’s constitution test requirement is being considered, but many say the university should still ensure its graduates have a basic understanding of democratic principles.

NIU Legal Counsel George Shur said the School Code is not legally applicable to universities, but NIU can require a test if it sees fit. He said the test is strictly a matter of policy based on academic rather than legal reasons.

Shur added, “We hope that students gain a knowledge of our government through the test, and although the law does not require a test, the university can still use the School Code as a guideline in instituting its policies.”

The proposal, which would eliminate the constitution test requirement, has been passed by the University Curriculum Council, but has yet to be voted on by the Undergraduate Coordinating Council. If the proposal is passed, it will be up to the faculty to suggest any requirements to take the test’s place.

Anthony Scaperlanda, University Curriculum Council member, said, “Our first concern is maintaining a strong general education curriculum. Any proposals that our faculty feel can improve the curriculum will be given serious consideration.”

The test requires students to demonstrate a basic knowledge of U.S. governement, but it might not ensure that students understand the principles of democracy.

Martin Dubin, Political Science Associate Professor, said it is a “civic duty” of America’s educational system to ensure students understand these principles.

Dubin said the present constitution test might not be the best way of doing that. He added that he would be interested in other proposals.

Students also feel it is important to understand U.S. government. Julie Jaroch, a political science major, said, “Even a basic knowledge of the constitution involves more than just a test. If we do not understand what our own country stands for, we cannot consider ourselves well-educated citizens.”