Auto-tech students no longer required to take English course

Ethan Seeley

Staff Writer

After this last Academic Senate meeting, incoming automotive students may never have to see an English classroom again.

Writing Composition is no longer a requirement in the program, the academic senate decided on Oct. 27, after a controversial vote.

The Academic Senate is a governing body composed of faculty, professors, and students that makes academic policy at Hudson Valley.

Extra chairs had to be brought in as faculty members from the English and automotive departments packed the meeting alongside the senate members. Some left unhappy with the outcome.

“I think this is a very, very serious error in judgment that will affect students negatively,” said Maria Palmara, chairperson of the English department and member of the Academic Senate.

The decision to eliminate Writing Composition I from the curriculum is part of a larger change by the automotive department, which also includes additional lab time and new technical courses for the students.

According to automotive department chairperson Anthony Kossmann, the changes were made to conform to SUNY guidelines, which cap Associate’s degrees at 64 credits. Writing Composition I, which is the sole English requirement for automotive students, has been a required component of the programs since 1967.

There were two programs under debate: the Associate’s of Occupational Studies (A.O.S.) in Automotive Technical Services and the A.O.S. in Autobody Repair. Together, over 200 students are enrolled in them. The requirements for the former consist of 63 credits while the latter has 60, leading some on the Academic Senate to suggest that the three-credit Writing Composition class could fit into the autobody curriculum. SUNY also allows programs to present “compelling justification” to waive the 64 credit cap.

“We are not trying to hurt these students. We’re trying to provide our students an associate’s of occupational studies degree. They need to go out and get a job,” said Kossmann, who also stressed that writing and communication were already integrated into the automotive course work.

However, members of the English department, among others who opposed the changes, said the loss of writing instruction would be damaging to students.

“We are narrowing our students’ horizons… By removing writing from these programs, you are removing your students’ futures to rise above entry-level positions,” said Maria Pollack, professor of English.

Supporters of the change said that curriculum decisions should be left to the department. “My colleagues are all highly educated, highly trained professionals. They know what their students need,” said Christopher McNally, professor of automotive technology.

resistance to the class, he was doing well and had enjoyed all his writing assignments.

The two resolutions to remove Writing Composition from the automotive curricula both passed by six votes.

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