“What if you taught a course at Oxy?” ask the emails in student inboxes this semester, sent by Yanori Ferguson (first year). According to Ferguson, one of the e-board members at Students Teaching OXY (STOXY), the new platform will provide student-led classes for other students, which would be taught once or twice a week for multiple weeks. STOXY hopes to ultimately produce a website for Occidental students to register for the student-led classes. For now, STOXY is running a simple, minimized pilot in April, after working to prepare student instructors during March.
“Each board member is an organizational mentor,” Ferguson said. “Not necessarily a mentor that teaches organization skills, but rather providing support and forming this platform for students to create their syllabi and get the materials they need in order to be successful in their own student-led classes.”
Tzu Kit Chan (senior) has been working on STOXY since his first year at Occidental, lending his expertise in the logistics of running clubs. He said he intends for STOXY to provide the logistical framework for students to get classes about their niche passions off the ground. This might include reserving spaces, submitting funding requests for materials and registering student attendees via their website, according to Chan.
“You would be surprised how [many] cool things are not done in this world because people are unwilling to do the busywork,” Chan said.
Chan said he hopes to demonstrate interest through surveys and number of pilot participants to gain more persuasive power as a student platform, which could lead to recognition as a one-credit course or expanding their audience past just students. According to Ferguson, classes in the pilot will include The Fundamentals of Chess with Sloan Wittliff (sophomore), Chocolate Culture with Madeleine Triff (sophomore) and Keebs 101: Intro to Building Keyboards with Brandon Lok (first year).
“When I founded STOXY in my first year, I tried to push to make it a recognized one-unit thing. What ended up happening is that they wanted to see if there’s actually interest. It’s like a chicken and egg thing,” Chan said. “So I think the best thing we can do is start the pilot, show interest and hopefully see how far it can be built. Suppose two years down the road that STOXY has been such a well-recognized thing, we can see if we can formalize a process to make it work.”
As a student instructor, Iris Wang (first year) hopes to connect her work with Sunrise Oxy to her course. The club has been researching the medicinal benefits of cheeseweed, an invasive grass currently growing on Fiji Hill and scheduled for removal by FEAST, she said. Her class would be called Cooking with Cheeseweed: Salads, Soups and Sautes!
“I am someone that absolutely loves learning,” Wang said. “From a student perspective, there definitely are a lot of classes that I wish I could take that simply aren’t available — very niche and not necessarily involved in any majors or future work, but just mini passions.”
According to Ferguson and Chan, STOXY could be a platform for club collaborations. They said they would be open to adding classes from other clubs to the website in the mission of student-to-student teaching.
Peter Vartanian (sophomore), another e-board member and student instructor, is also the co-president of Multilingual Oxy. From his previous club experience teaching language workshops, he said he has seen a turnout from Occidental students in spaces of outside classroom learning, which he said enriches knowledge on campus.
“Use the economics supply and demand model: when there is no supply, demand dies down. It hurts me to see that,” Vartanian said. “We want to fill this vacuum and provide not substitutions, but supplementary and complementary courses to the things that faculty members already teach.”
Vartanian said he would like to teach students about Armenian culture, phonetic transcription — including the international phonetic alphabet — and conversational Latin. Chan said he would even like to see an American Sign Language course at some point in the future.
“We’re getting students to teach things that professors aren’t teaching that are new, interesting or useful,” Chan said.
Contact Mollie Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org