Students express distrust of Academic Reorganization Initiative during public forum
By feeling they are not well represented in the process, students and faculty have doubts about the Academic Organization Review Initiative.
These concerns were expressed during the Academic Reorganization Public Forum in Charles V. Park Library Auditorium Nov. 10.
With the auditorium at capacity, the intention of the public forum was for faculty and students to address questions, concerns and ideas they may have for the academic reorganization.
The Academic Organizational Review was approved by the Board of Trustees in August. The initiative will review and reorganize CMU's academic and administrative structure.
"This is an organizational review," Senior Vice Provost of the initiative Ian Davison said. "We're asking ourselves the question, 'Are we properly organized (as) a university of the future?'"
The audience, however, had different questions.
Attendees questioned the ability of the committees in dispersing quality information to the public and the initiative's dedication to receiving student input.
Connecticut senior Jessie Black urged the committee to consider how the lack of the student voice could lead to uninformed decision making.
"If this (committee) strays away from being student-oriented, it could have some pretty bad repercussions," Black said.
Audience members attributed a quiet student opinion to the professional rhetoric of the committee members and a lack of communication from the committees to students.
Anna Owens, Student Government Association president, is preparing a campus-wide survey to be delivered via email in the upcoming weeks. Owens was not present at the public forum, but Davison spoke in her absence by explaining a student forum will take place so students may share their opinions on the reorganization.
Mary Senter, Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work faculty member attempted to summarize the mood of the audience.
"There has not been one single proposal put forward today about a different kind of organization, and that should tell you a lot," Senter said. "All of the questions have to do with the process that is not well understood, not well communicated. What you should take away from this is that there's a tremendous amount of distrust about this whole process."
Following the event, Davison provided his take on students not being well informed about the initiative.
"Obviously, the student body doesn't feel like they're being represented or are aware of the process," Davison said. "We will, to the extent we can, make sure there is more information put out for the students."
Throughout the event, Davison provided possible mediums this information may come through: email blasts, events, student leadership or news.
"The motivation behind this is to make sure we do a better job of supporting our students' education," Davison said.
Royal Oak junior Abigail Walsh was unimpressed with the committee's responses.
"Every question that was asked they danced around. No questions were answered," Walsh said.
Faculty and students may provide input or propose changes to the initiative on the Academic Organizational Review's page on CMU's website. The page also provides frequently asked questions and contact information for each of the three committees involved.