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Throwback Thursday

A Periodic Tale of Departmental Lore (Part 9)

Written by David Lapakko 

Two requirements for the major that no longer exist

As some of our seniors look forward to commencement, there are at least two things they won’t need to worry about.  If you were a communication studies major in the ‘90s, two final hurdles stood in your way.  The first involved a requirement for all majors that was in place for roughly ten years: all communication studies graduates needed to participate in at least two interscholastic speech tournaments in order to graduate.  Suffice it to say that in the ‘90s, we sent a lot of students to Normandale Community College to compete in Twin Cities Forensics League tournaments that were held at Normandale six times a year.  After a while, the requirement became a bit of a hassle for some students and a record-keeping headache for the department, and so it was dropped.


The other requirement was built on the premise that all of our majors should not only be able to speak–they should be able to write, or at least know correct usage, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.  And so, a “writing test” was administered to every graduating senior; it was basically a fake news article that was riddled with errors in composition.  If a senior could find and correct a good percentage of those errors, they were free to graduate; if not, they needed to get some sort of remediation until they could pass.  After many years of such a requirement, a few rather vocal students complained that the test was too silly and superficial, and it was abandoned.  But I still have scores of old completed writing tests in my office drawer!


In those two respects, completing the major is slightly less of a hassle than it was in the past.  For that matter, so is completing the entire bachelor’s degree.  If you were a student in 1990, you’d need to pass 35 courses (three of which were J-term courses) and your commencement would be in late May; now you only need to pass 32 courses, and we’re now basically done by the end of April–and let’s face it, that makes the month of May just a whole lot less stressful.