Limited admissions—good or bad?

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has been embroiled in controversies for over a week, and no end is in sight.

First, the college complained that its revenue did not keep pace with its rising enrollment, attacking the College of Business in the process and asking for a partial reallocation of business’ budget to LA&S.

Then, a recommendation to eliminate the M.A. in journalism, which was supported by NIU’s administration and the Illinois Board of Higher Education, failed to pass the LA&S curriculum committee.

Now comes word that LA&S Dean James Norris is recommending that several departments, including journalism, political science, economics, computer science, communications and sociology, eliminate limited admissions requirements.

Norris’ justification for journalism is that the department should spend more time teaching. This point seems moot since all journalism does is teach writing—how to write, what to write and how to avoid a libel suit.

By terminating the limited admissions requirements, students will be able to enter the journalism major lacking in the basic skills needed to improve their writing. The admission requirements test students on these skills, requiring them to know them or learn them before entering journalism. Without this testing, professors will be wasting time teaching the basics when they could be teaching students to become better overall writers.

Another justification for the elimination of limited admissions is that the systems are unfair to students, and that poor students will be weeded out by their grades.

However, is it fair that good serious students might not be able to get the classes they want because all the course sections will be filled with students who are just passing through from major to major? Besides, competition is a part of life and when students enter the real world, they can’t expect to get a job just because it is fair. They have to prove they are worthy of the job.

This seems a curious time for Norris’ recommendation, considering his college just complained about the rising enrollment in LA&S. The contradiction is obvious—eliminating limited restrictions will further drive enrollment up and contribute to budget woes in the college.

If this proposal passes, no one benefits in the end.