Leaked Documents Provoke Student, Faculty Outrage

Andrea Violet

Editor in Chief

Centenary’s campus was abuzz yesterday with the circulation of controversial documents pertaining to curriculum changes. These curriculum changes are meant as a way to implement the other document in circulation, the Centenary Commitments. The contextual application of these documents will be discussed at an SGA-sponsored forum in the Centenary Room this evening, April 16, at 6 p.m. Provost Mike Hemphill will be in attendance along with a select few faculty members. For the sake of clarity, hard copies of these documents will be available at this evening’s forum.

The issue at the helm of this chaos is the lack of unity between the students/faculty and administration. The lack of communication between students and administration has been apparent from past events, such as the tuition increase this past school year. Current developments, however, only prove the existence of a serious divide between the faculty and the administration that needs to be addressed.

Concerning the recent events, Dr. Lisa Nicoletti, Professor of Art History and Visual Studies said,

“Centenary’s Faculty, Administration, and Board of Trustees preserve our academic integrity and excellence through a system of shared governance, approved by our Board and outlined in the Faculty Handbook (see http://www.centenary.edu/provost/handbook/).  Specifically, shared governance requires faculty and student input, both missing from President Rowe’s ‘Commitments’ plan and detailed curriculum plan.  Centenary College’s governing documents clearly state: ‘The faculty has primary responsibility for such fundamental areas as curriculum, subject matter and methods of instruction, research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.’ Shared governance also gives distinct rights to our students, as outlined below in the Faculty Handbook: ‘The respect of students for their college or university can be enhanced if they are given at least these opportunities: (1) to be listened to in the classroom without fear of institutional reprisal for the substance of their views, (2) freedom to discuss questions of institutional policy and operation, (3) the right to academic due process when charged with serious violations of institutional regulations, and (4) the same right to hear speakers of their own choice as is enjoyed by other components of the institution’(http://www.centenary.edu/provost/handbook/appendixA) .”

 

It has been reported by an anonymous source that yesterday evening during the faculty meeting held to discuss the curriculum changes, a certain administrator made the claim that “students have no background to be assessing curricular change.” This statement goes directly against the statements that exist in the Faculty Handbook and shows a lack of willingness to adhere to policies previously voted upon and set in place. If the administration is not held accountable to the claims they have already made, who is to say that the new policies will not be changed to fit whatever future agendas they may have?

Centenary boasts the intellectual abilities of its students, as seen in the advertisements in which the statistics of student success following graduation are highlighted. An institution that does not see fit to inform and receive input from even its faculty, much less its students, about vital changes to the school’s core mission in an effective and timely manner certainly does not lend credence to the confidence the institution seeks to inspire in the public.

As students, we can stand up for our rights and privileges as constituents of this institution by getting informed, staying informed, forming educated opinions, and making those opinions heard. One of the ways by which to make your opinions heard is to utilize your student government, whose main purpose is to be your voice to the administration. In order to better help Centenary SGA represent the students’ opinions and interests, send your constructive opinions and questions to centenarycollegesga@gmail.com. For the sake of clarity and efficiency, send in only constructive opinions and thoughts. This is not the proper avenue by which to complain; save that for social media sites.

Be on the lookout for an update concerning these issues after this evening’s forum.

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Comments

  1. Cent Alumna says:

    I honestly don’t know how much I can stress how GOOD you have it. If this were happening at any other school, there wouldn’t be a forum to clarify things or let students submit their grievances. Your options would be deal with it or transfer, which really are your options now, too. So voice your complaints as mature adults, but don’t lose sight of how wonderful you actually have it.

    • I can’t think of a single institution of higher education that doesn’t have such a forum, in some form or another – if not multiple avenues to participate as members of a community. Most have some form of student governance, such as a student senate (like SGA), where grievances can be made and resolutions passed that are then brought to the attention of the administration. Many colleges and universities include students on university-wide committees. Then there are student media, petition processes, and good old hitting-the-sidewalk.

    • Taylor Atkinson says:

      Why settle for GOOD when we can do a little bit of work and make it BETTER?

  2. Another Cent Alumna says:

    I agree that current students should balance temporary irritations with gratefulness. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t legitimate complaints mentioned here–complaints about bigger issues. The tuition raise (with or without consultation) is a small matter: the reasons given for that were convincing. But the lack of shared governance? That’s a big deal.

  3. David Burch says:

    We do “have it good” at Centenary which is a reason why many of us chose this school is the idea that we help shape our education. If this is taken away from us because the administration believes we “have no background to be assessing curricular change” then it is not the Centenary I enrolled in and I would transfer if I were an underclassman.

  4. It's Drew says:

    Two quick points. This administration has come under consistent fire over the years for not informing students of pending changes or seeking their input. Some criticism in this regard is warranted. However, resist the impulse to think that just because you have not personally been informed or solicited for advice your duly elected students reps in various positions and committees have not been. There are students at virtually level of governance. It is crucial that students with strong backbones and passion for students are elected.

    I am currently at a huge university for grad school that is undergoing drastic changes. I have been pleasantly surprised that the students here have significant input in those changes, but no more than students did at Centenary when I was there. I would resist the impulse to compare Centenary’s student power with other colleges and universities as there is wide variance, but I suspect Centenary students are among the most influential in the development of their colleges policies.

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