Editorial: Looking More Closely at Democratic Education



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An investigation into the highly popular sexuality DE-Cal classes may show the program's liberties are too great. But no matter what the administration finds, clearer academic standards and better faculty supervision of all Democratic Education at Cal classes must result.

After the student facilitators for the male sexuality DE-Cal failed to show up to a meeting with administrators, the student-taught class was suspended indefinitely.

Then officials announced they were launching an investigation into both this DE-Cal and another, female sexuality. While investigation is warranted, suspending the male sexuality class leaves its students hanging out to dry. The review should be conducted while the class remains in progress, allowing its students to obtain the two units of course credit should the investigation find no reason to abolish the class.

A report in The Daily Californian revealed dubious events associated with the male sexuality DE-Cal, prompting the administration's investigation. The exposed practices include an "orgy" at a party held at a class coordinator's residence and class trips to a strip club.

That possibly wayward activities went overlooked by faculty supervision casts shadows across the reputation of the DE-Cal program. By definition, the classes are student-taught with faculty approval and supervision. The DE-Cal applications must be signed by both a sponsoring professor and the appropriate department head. These applications specify that the professor is ultimately responsible for class content.

It is therefore disturbing that when confronted with the allegations, the sponsoring professor Caren Kaplan told the Daily Cal, "I don't police the content." Kaplan, who sponsored both courses, is also the chair of the Women's Studies Department, meaning she was the only one to sign off on the courses.

"The DE-Cal classes are run with very little faculty oversight," says Dean of Social Sciences George Breslauer, Kaplan's immediate superior. "That probably will change."

In this case, the student coordinators may have been responsible, but if a problem is found with the class content, Kaplan will be held accountable. If she says she wasn't aware of what was happening, she can be held responsible because she should have known.

DE-Cal classes need to do as much as other classes to earn their units . More clearly defined educational standards should be set for the DE-Cals, and these standards should be enforced by thorough faculty oversight.

DE-Cals can be a productive educational experience, but they need to be worthy of the units of college credit they yield.

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