To the Editor:
How much does USM really do to insure that students’ needs, opinions, and values are a part of decision-making processes? The USM Art Department’s Web page states, “Students are expected to think and work creatively, expressing their own points of view and to be able to defend them with an informed and articulate voice.”
As a USM art student, I feel the need to express my thoughts, feelings, and opinions about three particular things happening at USM.
Yesterday, I was very shocked and sad to hear that David Schneider will not be allowed to continue to serve as the head of the Ceramics Department, nor will he be hired as full-time staff. After having had three classes taught by David, I have found his teaching to be more than valuable. I, like many students at USM, appreciate the 20 years he has dedicated, teaching at USM. He is a professor who is respected by students, for his incredible insight and wisdom, humbleness, and passion for what he teaches.
Another reason I felt shocked about this decision by USM, was because I had been so unaware of the whole change in the department. This lack of information given to students is a very important issue that needs the attention of the faculty at USM.
There have been several flyers posted throughout the Art Department lately, telling students to “Meet the Candidate for the new Ceramics Instructor” on certain afternoons. I was happy to see the opportunity given to students, to be involved with this choice. What WASN’T posted however, was that this candidate would be the head of the Ceramics Department and the full-time instructor. What MOST art students didn’t know, was that the position that David had been filling, was open. Perhaps, if students were informed of the whole situation, we could express our opinions, needs, and experiences to the committee that is making the decisions in the department.
Haven’t the STUDENTS had significant experiences in the Art Department that need to be heard? Don’t the STUDENTS have important relationships with professors that need to be considered? This brings me to my third issue. There are no students on the committee that is making these decisions. How are the students being heard and represented?
Without hearing whole situations, nor having a place on the committee, how can students have a clear voice in any important decision-making process?
Even if students weren’t involved with the FINAL say on the committee, it would be democratic to at least have a few students witnessing the process and helping to inform other students of what is happening within the department. One suggestion would be to send out an e-mail or letter, asking the art students about their needs, experiences, and thoughts concerning a possible change in the head of the Ceramics Department. Although some might not reply, this would present more opportunity for the students’ experiences to be recognized and considered. I do trust that the faculty in the Art Department is very knowledgeable, cares about the students, and is working hard to find a great instructor. Perhaps if there was more communication from them, they could hear that we have one here already.