California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

No Field Trip Rules

Kris Karsten, a biology professor at Cal Lutheran, requires his herpetology class to go on four class fields trips during their normal lab times. The course also includes two weekend trips: one is a one-day trip to the Devil’s Punchbowl in Los Angeles County, and the second is a three-day trip to the Mojave Desert.

California Lutheran University currently has no policies regarding field trips. No sort of policies are mentioned in the student handbook or in the faculty handbook, leaving it up to professors’ discretion on whether they want to have a field trip be part of their classes.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Leanne Neilson hopes students are warned ahead of time so that any burden placed on them can be resolved and allow them to go on the field trips.

“I think that it should be left to the discretion of the professors; it depends on the class and what the experience needs to be,” Neilson said.

Neilson also said professors have been asked to be considerate of the times that they decide to pick for trips so that if conflicts occur, students have enough time to complete an alternative assignment or communicate with other professors if they will be missing class.

“I have to put the emphasis on [the word] suggested. We never forced any of this, but the faculty as a whole endorsed the guidelines,” Neilson said.

According to the Karsten’s herpetology course syllabus, any student who fails to attend a field trip, unless in case of emergency with completion of an alternative assignment, will get an automatic zero for the field and discussion participatory grade. Students who miss two field trips will get a zero on their field notebook.

The alternative assignment for emergencies is a 30-page paper on the topic of Karsten’s choice with 30 references from peer-reviewed literature. If the paper is not of high quality, there is a one-grade reduction to a student’s final letter grade, and if no paper is done at all, it will result in a two-letter grade reduction.

The local trips require students to pay parking and potential fees, find their own transportation and bring their own food, as stated in the syllabus.

The Mojave Desert trip takes place in late April, giving students time to request off work, which can entail not making money during that weekend. While students do not have to take this class, some may not have the option since herpetology is the only class being offered in the spring under the organismal biology and ecology section for the biology major.

Karsten said that when receiving feedback, students often want him to add another field trip.

During the three-day Mojave trip, Karsten provides the students with the camping material and transportation. Since the class is a smaller size, he needs one other faculty member to drive the other vehicle to transport all the students.

“In retrospect, the students enjoy the trip; they like catching all the lizards, snakes and frogs.” Karsten said. While, at first it may seem like a burden, they get to experience some of the real world of the herpetology field.

Junior Ricky Limon and senior Jose Rangel-Morales were both surprised when finding out about the class field trip, but are excited to go.

“I do have a job, but as long as I ask for the days off in advance, I should be fine,” Rangel-Morales said. “Professor Karsten gives us enough time to be able to request days off if we have a job.”

Both Limon and Rangel-Morales said field work is a big component of the class and that it will help them in the long run, putting what they have learned in class into practice.

Limon felt that having he university registrar add a description on the course directory to classes with required field trips would be helpful, as he was not expecting the outside trips when enrolling.

Neilson said it would be difficult for the registrar to keep classes updated with correct information since there may be several faculty members teaching the same class.

Vianca Castaneda-Correa
Reporter

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