Saturday, January 19th, 2019

Non-majors vocalize concerns in budget cuts

Posted on November 03, 2014 in News
By Emma James

Ellen Spahn

Part of the administration’s rationale behind the elimination of the applied medical sciences program was that the major didn’t benefit other programs in the school. According to official census data taken on Oct. 15, 2014, this is not the case.

“In applied medical sciences there are 106 students, total, enrolled in a course in the AMS graduate programs,” said Christopher Quint, director of public relations. “Of those 106, 16 are AMS graduate students and 90 — combination of graduate and undergraduate — are non-AMS graduate students taking a course in the AMS graduate program in the fall 2014 semester.”

In other words, 85% of students taking classes in the AMS program are enrolled in different majors throughout the university.

Tristan Glenn, a student enrolled in the program’s immunology course working on his medical school prerequisites, described the program elimination as being terrible.

“[Applied medical sciences are] so incredibly important, given the time we’re in, with so many new diseases, threats of biological warfare, antibiotic resistance and all that,” said Glenn. “The thought that this subject, in particular, is being considered unimportant seems very myopic to me.”

Glenn also worries about the future of students like him, who wish to pursue medicine as a career.

“If USM makes these classes unavailable to people who do want to pursue a career of medicine, I don’t know where we’re going to go,” said Glenn. “I could go to UNE [University of New England], but it’s way too expensive.”

Glenn explained that, with the elimination of these programs, Maine is being left in a “bind.”

“It’s a fundamental disservice to Maine on an economic and social level,” Glenn said.

Allison Gray, a family nurse practitioner major and part time faculty member, attends classes in two of the five programs slashed in the past two months: applied medical sciences and American and New England studies.

“I have found them both to be so fundamental and enriching that it is beyond disappointing to me that it’s just an across the board cut, instead of how we could look at cross listing,” said Gray.

Gray finds it disappointing that nobody has asked the question “Would you, as a future medical professional, find these courses beneficial?”

“The immunology class I’m taking will completely affect how I practice as a provider,” said Gray. “Even my New England studies class, it’s totally outside what I normally do, but I have to say that even that course has affected me so much that I put in to try to work at the Indian Health Service for my clinicals because I was so moved by the information I gathered in the course.”

Gray believes that much of this could have been avoided or decisions could have been made in a less inflammatory way had there been consultation with students and faculty prior to making the decision.

“They’re teaching major things. They’re looking at vaccinations and preventing cancer and organ transplants,” said Gray. “These are important topics. It’s just disappointing that they [administration and board of trustees] don’t see the value of trying to make that work.”

According to Ah-Kau Ng, professor of immunology, classes are also used by students outside the university at different campuses, as well as by undergraduate students looking to be trained in the laboratory setting.

“The quality of their education depends on these experiences,” said Ng. “They’re very helpful to make them more competitive when they apply for jobs. Students are losing this opportunity.”

Still, faculty and students plan to continue to fight for the department. In meetings to come, S. Monroe Duboise, associate professor of molecular biology and microbiology, plans to have both AFUM representation and legal representation, for both the students and faculty.

Professors in the program received their official retrenchment letters last Wednesday, sent directly to their homes via express mail at over $18 each.

“That would’ve bought a lot of coffee to have a lot of productive and constructive conversations over the past few months,” said Duboise. “But they didn’t choose to take that approach. They chose to attack.”

According to Duboise, this elimination is unprecedented in the academic world and “way outside” the range of ethical norms.

“It’s all a team effort and they’re essentially attacking us. It seems to be their intent. I think [President David] Flanagan enjoys this, and maybe some other people do too,” said Duboise. “It seems quite sadistic from where I sit.”

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