Editorial: Don’t keep us in the dark

The recently released program prioritization recommendation list has everyone’s head spinning. Faculty members from all departments across campus are discussing, emailing and worrying about programs getting cut and how it will affect the University. There has also been some chatter from students who received letters that their program might get the ax, but what about the rest of the student body?

Considering the recommendation list was released shortly after the majority of Western Carolina University’s student body graduated or took off for the summer, we have to wonder if releasing the list in late May was a purposeful tactic. While those students affected by programs up for possible discontinuation have been informed, where are the letters and emails for the rest of the students? Shouldn’t we be informed of how we can get involved with the idea of our University losing programs and creating action plans for others?

On June 5, faculty members received the opportunity to attend a forum to ask questions about how Chancellor Belcher and the committee who worked on the list would move forward with the recommendations. Many questions were asked but not many detailed, definite answers were given back.

 Our question is where are the student forums? According to the opening PowerPoint slide at the presentation on June 5, this was the fourth forum given. Surely, at least one of the earlier forums for the faculty was presented prior to graduation and the end of spring 2013 classes. Why were students not given an opportunity to stand up for their programs? Why did the administration not hold a Q & A panel for students to ask questions about their programs and the future of the University? Even if a student’s program is not discontinued, any cut still upsets the entire student body. As Dr. Catherine Carter pointed out in the faculty forum, cutting programs leads to a decrease in student numbers, which is an interesting point to make, especially since the University has recently started boasting about their over 9,000 enrollment number and the largest graduating class as seen through three different ceremonies this past May. Perhaps students are looking forward to being part of a larger school with higher retention rates, etc., which leads to more funding.

However, the administration does not know the answers and opinions of these hypotheses because they never held a student opinion forum. Instead, they hope that students stumble across the online feedback button located on the program prioritization recommendation page under the Office of the Provost web page, which is found via the Leadership page via the About WCU page. In a world that promotes faster and easier access to constant data, just typing the directions in that previous sentence would seem too much work to some.

We at The Western Carolinian highly suggest a mass email to the entire student body informing them of the program prioritization and providing them with a direct link to the feedback page. Then, at least, students can choose to participate or ignore an important event in their University’s academic history.