Grad School cuts and mergers

Students don’t have authority in this area, but should have been given more attention.

The recent Graduate School changes have stirred up debate as to the role of student government in the process of deciding what is best for the University and its students. Student government leaders have questioned the Graduate School’s move to eliminate four programs, merge 16 others and the power to make other decisions in the future without student input.

Currently, program decisions are made through the involvement of “relevant” faculty members, current graduate students and relevant deans and provosts, according to the Graduate School Web site. The decisions are made on three major criteria. Those being the relevance of the program to current needs, decline in program’s quality and economic necessity. But the real question is: Should student government be allowed to have input into decisions such as these?

In the end, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly should not be given authority in the process of program decisions simply because students do not run the University. A lack of background and experience in the program decisions process is also a concern, especially considering students in representative positions not always representative of the student body as a whole, given low participation in elections and student government in general.

All this aside, there are legitimate complaints about the way the Graduate School handled the process. Students’ views on University policy should always be sought. First, students in programs directly affected by the Graduate School changes should have been notified early and more explicitly to allow time to decide whether they wanted to be involved with the input process. Secondly, it should have been made more explicit that students could be involved with the input process, and how they should do so. Additionally, the University could do more to rectify the situation and prevent disgruntled students by making clear how decisions are made and the process works.

Catching students off-guard adds to vibe, correctly or not, that the University is trying to pull a fast one. As for GAPSA, it would be well advised to place pressure on the University to clarify how students can get involved.