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College 005 irks students

Some Mills College students have paid their classmates to complete the required online course, College 005, violating the College Honor Code.

College 005 has fulfilled the Information Literacy/ Information Technology Skill requirements since fall 2004.

A current sophomore student said she had enough to deal with without worrying about completing College 005. Fed up, she did what she heard a number of other students had already done: she paid $25 for someone else to complete the class for her.

“At lunch one day, we were all just talking about it,” she said. “One of [the girls] made a proposition to do it for me; she and a friend had been doing this for a while. I checked the next day and it was done, and I didn’t have a hold on my account.”

That day was the deadline to complete the course for students enrolled that year; those who didn’t finish also had a hold placed on their account.

The Honor Code’s academic clause states that each student shall honestly prepare her assignments and take her examinations, and that all examinations and assignments represent a student’s work. Cheating on College 005 is a trend sweeping across campus.

At the Oct. 20 College Services meeting, students present brought up the issue, which shocked many staff members.

Daina Dickman, a Mills reference librarian and instructor for Element K admitted that there is no way to monitor cheating. “However,” she said, “we trust that students won’t cheat, and that they’ll realize the value of knowing these skills.”

As a whole, College 005 is meant to test students’ basic skills in technology and researching skills to help with academic coursework. The College encourages students to complete it their first year.

Yet freshwoman Jisel Moore said she just doesn’t have the time. “There are better things I could be doing, like working or studying. Mills is adding a non-credit class to my course load in an already hectic time when I’m just transitioning to college. My schedule is really busy, and I have to make time for this, too. On top of that, I only get a year to do this, or else a hold will be placed on my account.”

But aside from issues of time, it’s not M.I.L.E. that’s bothering students -it’s the rest of Element K.

“It was confusing. With the activity questions, I didn’t know where to click. One wrong move, and bam: Failure!” sophomore Daniela Fernandez said.

However, Elizabeth Clare Morter, a junior who completed an older version of College 005 in her freshman year, said she didn’t mind reviewing the material. “The Microsoft Word and PowerPoint assessments were really simple. And I actually learned a lot from Excel. Element K really helped with all that. Knowing how to use these programs have made my life so much easier.”

But aside from time issues and accesability, it’s not M.I.L.E. that’s bothering students-it’s the rest of Element K. Students like Fernandez and Moore find the program frustrating and unhelpful.

“We don’t want students frustrated and we don’t want them to feel that they’re wasting their time,” Dickman said. “People come to Mills with different problems and needing different things from College 005. I’m working to make College 005 a class that’s better at meeting student needs.”

Last May before the deadline, officials implemented the hold-policy on a student’s account if they do not complete the course by the end of their first year. Upperclasswomen who had put off the course alsohad a hold placed on their account. A hold prevents students from registering for classes, graduating, checking-in, and ordering transcripts.

Registration for the spring semester is Nov. 10, and students with current holds must complete the course before then.

The course is broken into two distinct parts. Mills Information Literacy Evaluation (M.I.L.E.), the program that completes the information literacy requirement, consists of one six-part course and six corresponding assessments, designed to teach students how to search databases and the Internet, while also determining the reliability of sources.

The Microsoft Office courses in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint make up the information technology requirement. Students may opt to skip the course and move onto the assessments if they feel they understand the material, though the College strongly discourages students from doing so.