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Faculty senate votes to reduce Wellness Passport requirements

Luke Whitehouse

Have you ever gone to an event on campus, seen a QR code on the flier, and wondered what it was for?

Well, that is where you can scan in and earn a “stamp” on your Wellness Passport.

The Wellness Passport is one of the main components of the new Core Curriculum at Springfield College. The Core Curriculum replaced the prior General Education requirements, which ran through the graduating class of 2023. It took many years to develop and a handful of faculty and staff were involved in the process. 

But many students are confused about the procedure of getting stamps, how many stamps to get and when they are allowed to get them. 

“As a student who lives on campus, it can be confusing,” said Brady Cote, a junior in the Communications/Sports Journalism major. “It’s not something you often hear about.” 

For juniors, it has been exceptionally difficult because they are the “test” class, and the first ones who have gone through the new Core. As of now, they are required to complete three leveled Wellness courses in order to be eligible to start receiving Wellness Passport stamps, and then must accrue 48 stamps, which are a requirement for graduation. Many are questioning why it was implemented and the thinking behind it.

According to the course catalog, the Wellness Passport is “a co-curricular degree requirement that builds on students’ Wellness and Physical Literacy Core requirements, and prepares students to incorporate wellness across the lifespan while encouraging them to pursue an active, healthy lifestyle.” Students are required to choose from a range of options and events during their third and fourth years (after completing their 300-level Wellness and Physical Literacy course) that “allow them to further explore and develop personal wellness practices and physical literacy.” Activities fall under three types of wellness: physical, mental, and meaning and purpose.

Director of the Core Curriculum and Associate Professor of Religious Studies Katherine Dugan offered insight into the logic behind it. 

“The pedagogical idea is that you take three one-credit Wellness courses that introduce you to a wide range of wellness things,” Dugan said. “The Wellness Passport is a way to put those principles into practice. The idea is that when you go off after college, you have the skills and practice of lifelong physical and wellness literacy.” 

While there has been little disagreement about the purpose of the Wellness Passport, there has been debate over the number of stamps required for graduation. According to Dugan, as of today, there are 454 students who are eligible to start their 48 stamps. Of those students, 204 have yet to earn a single stamp. This has been very concerning for some faculty members, many of whom act as advisors to these students. The main concern is that students tend to take their three level Wellness courses over the span of two or three years, leaving little time to complete all 48 stamps. 

Professor of Communications Martin Dobrow spoke at the Faculty Senate meeting and shared his thoughts about this being an equity issue. 

“I do wonder about the wisdom of starting with something that is really stressing a large number of students at a time when there is a very high level of stress across the campus,” Dobrow said.  “It seems to be that the lower target, as a starting point, would make a lot of sense.” 

It has also posed a challenge to commuting students, who often are not on campus after hours and many of them have jobs that they have to attend outside of school. 

Nate LaTour, an English major here at Springfield,  was one student who attended the meeting to discuss his concerns. 

“Personally, I feel like it’s a lot for some people like me, who both work on campus and have off-campus commitments,” LaTour said. “For example, I’m going to be coaching high school basketball in the winter. So every single day of the week, and often nights, my schedule is pretty crazy. I’m meeting with coaches, helping them run practices.”

Although reducing the number of stamps has been mentioned, it’s not necessarily a widely agreed upon conclusion. 

 Multiple faculty members said that they thought it was more of a communication issue, that students were not always aware when they had the opportunity to earn stamps.   

“48 stamps is a lot of stamps,” said Dugan. “And because of that we have made many, many opportunities… It’s hard for an event [on campus] to not be a Wellness Passport event.”  

On Monday, Nov. 7, after much consideration, members of the faculty senate met to discuss reducing the number of required stamps. The faculty senate is a group of representatives from each department that meet to discuss important issues, such as this. 

The group had voted last year to reduce the number from 48 to 24, but were asked to reassess and reconsider that vote based on new information. On Monday, the Senate voted once again to uphold the motion to reduce the number of stamps from 48 to 24. 

“I think it will make the Wellness Passport a more equitable program for all of our students,” said Anne Wheeler, Chair of the Department of Literature, Writing, and Journalism. 

Although the vote was conducted, the ruling is just a suggestion, and not a final determination. The motion will now go before Springfield College provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Ann Coughlin to make a final decision. 

“Other students I’ve talked to also do stuff off campus,” said LaTour.  “If working and doing those sorts of things would translate into the Wellness Passport, that would help.”

Photo Courtesy of Springfield College

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