Under the leadership of Dr. David Marshall, the International College of the Cayman Islands continues its march toward authentic academic excellence. The president’s drumbeat, however, isn’t the only sound emanating from the Newlands campus. Some students, in the words of Dr. Marshall, have struck out on a “warpath” of their own in response to a set of proposals designed to heighten standards and strengthen accountability at ICCI.
Currently, the ICCI community is debating the pros and cons of suggested revisions to the college’s academic policies – dealing with requirements for homework, attendance, dress code, etc. – which the ICCI Board of Trustees will consider at a meeting on Sept. 27.
While there may be room for some back-and-forth over the particulars of specific policies, taken as a whole, adoption of the recommendations would constitute a significant step forward for ICCI in the estimation of local businesses and the eyes of the educated.
What students ought to realize is that when Dr. Marshall’s tone gets tough – “The message we are trying to send is that education is very serious. It is a sacrifice, not an entitlement. You don’t just show up and get a degree.” – that is the moment when he is speaking with students’ best interests at heart.
Here are some of the suggested revisions:
- Faculty and students must comply with the standards of ICCI’s accrediting entity – i.e., for each hour a student spends in class, he should expect to devote two hours toward completing homework outside of the classroom.
- Undergraduate students must maintain a 2.5 grade point average to remain in good academic standing.
- Undergraduate students must earn a “C” or better in all major or core courses.
- Graduate students are allowed only a single “C” or worse, or they will be dismissed from the program.
- Students must maintain a minimum attendance rate of 85 percent.
- Graduation requirements now include 20 hours of community service, participation in a workshop on the History and Culture of Cayman, and demonstration of competency in college-level English and math.
- ICCI will adopt a “business-casual” dress code for students (meaning khakis, slacks, skirts and collared shirts – but no jeans, T-shirts or flip-flops).
Precisely because the recommendations are substantial, they have been met with substantial resistance. We applaud Dr. Marshall for adhering to his principles and trust that the governing powers of ICCI will continue to support him. Dr. Marshall is exactly correct when he says, “We have got to be unapologetic about standards.
On an island where the business community is complaining about the inability of people to meet standards in the workplace, we have to do our part. If we go down to 20 of the best students – that is what it is.”
An online poll on Dr. Marshall’s blog requests responses to the following statement: “The proposed policies will benefit ICCI students.”
As of our press time, 68 percent of respondents had declared, “I do not agree.” Only 13 percent agreed with the proposals.
Can you guess which population – the 68 percent against stricter standards, or the 13 percent in favor – the business community would rather hire? (How about the 52 students who have dropped out of ICCI since Dr. Marshall’s regime began in March?)
However, with all due respect to Dr. Marshall, if this Editorial Board were creating a poll on the issue, we would have worded the question differently.
Instead of asking if the tougher policies will benefit ICCI students, we would have posed the following: “Will the proposed policies benefit future ICCI graduates?”
The obvious answer, of course, is, “Of course!”