Since the beginning of the spring semester, a hostile environment has become evident on campus. The discussion of major restructuring, eliminating winter intersession, along with an unprecedented bribery scandal have made almost every one ill at ease.
The Aug. 29 Board of Trustees meeting set an even more damaging tone this semester. With the Boardâ€™s approval of a calendar that eliminated winter intersession, along with a complete realignment of the collegeâ€™s staff, administration, faculty, and teaching divisions, multiple groups on campus were caught off guard.
Many shared governance groups feel the Boardâ€™s and the administrationâ€™s decisions have been in complete disregard of their yearâ€“long discussions and recommendations.
The Academic Senate, Associated Students, and Calendar Committee all recommended keeping winter intersession during last yearâ€™s deliberations. The Senate and College Council voted to keep the 13 college divisions separate and to appoint deans for each.
The meanings of important terminology keep changing. Sessions have suddenly become interchangeable with intersessions; terms have become interchangeable with semesters. A â€œstudent calendarâ€ has replaced an academic calendar.
At an emergency meeting held on Aug. 28, the Faculty Association questioned the shift from an academic calendar to a student calendar. At the Aug. 29 Board meeting, the administration explained there was no difference: however many during the public comment begged to differ. Many are still confused at this change of terminology.
Not only is there confusion about the meaning of the words, but there is also serious confusion among students and faculty over the administrationâ€™s fullâ€“page advertisement [which appeared in previous issues of the Courier] explaining the calendar change. Some officials said the advertisement gave misinformation regarding summer semester, saying there will be two distinct sessions, instead of one semester with two sessions within it. Of course, these could be the wrong words or they could mean something else. Who knows?
At the Academic Senateâ€™s Sept. 11 Town Hall, members of the administration, Senate and AS sat on a panel in an attempt to explain the calendar change to faculty and students. Many faculty members questioned the starting dates for spring and summer semesters. While the Town Hall aimed to help explain the administrationâ€™s actions to the public, it only caused more confusion and uncertainty regarding these actions.
At the town hall, officials said they did not have a set number of sections for summer 2013, nor did they know if the springâ€™s Jan. 7 start date could be moved a week later to aid faculty in their course planning.
The administration must learn to better explain its decisions and its rationale to the public. But first, officials must fully understand the consequences of their actions, or else we are doomed to a sense that they are making it up as they go along, without a coherent plan.