After a recent meeting of the Liberal Ad Hoc Education Committee, faculty members have decided to not increase student seats on the committee.
At the first student senate meeting of the semester, Vice President of Academic Affairs Jonathan Espinosa said he wanted to add three student seats to the committee, raising the number from two to five.
“I wanted to have a student from each school on the committee, so there would have been someone from the business school and the science school and from each school,” Espinosa said. “I saw an opportunity to have more representation on the board. After the budget cuts a couple of years ago, what we wanted was transparency and ever since then I’ve been looking to seize every opportunity to create that.”
The current committee is made up of 18 faculty members, three representatives of faculty governance, the Interim Provost, two representatives from Student Affairs, two current students and two alumni, according to the SUNY New Paltz website. The purpose of the committee is to “review, analyze, and discuss recent developments in undergraduate and general education, meet with faculty and departments to solicit campus input; and share information across campus about principles, assumptions and key factors that are the foundation of a strong undergraduate education program including general education,” the website said.
Associate Professor Stella Deen, who served as the chair of the committee last year, said the current amount of student representation is too much, and adding to it would not have been in the best interests of the committee.
“The new motion would have added to the committee, and we have been looking to downsize the current number we already have,” Deen said. “We want to reduce the number of representatives altogether.”
Espinosa said part of the problem the faculty has with student representation is that students come off as apathetic whereas academic committees are concerned. He said he sees it as his job to make a difference in this matter.
“What I get is there’s some friction between the students and the faculty and to the faculty, the students are not as responsible as they should be,” he said. “…it would be my responsibility to fill those seats up.”
Paul Zuckerman, the current chair of the Liberal Education Ad Hoc committee, said the 150 faculty members who voted on the amendment had numerous reasons to keep the number of seats to two.
“There are a lot of reasons for us to keep the number at two,” Zuckerman said. “I think everyone who voted on it could give you different reasons for why they voted ‘no.’”
Since the committee is only temporary, Espinosa said he isn’t sure he’ll be able to make changes in its student representation in the future.
“Any opportunity I have to add five seats I’ll take, but this semester it’s done for now,” Espinosa said. “They’re revamping the guidelines for GE’s this year, which is why I wanted to have student representation from each school.”
Espinosa said that more student representation would improve the relationship between the student community and administration, and that committees such as the Liberal Ad Hoc Education Committee are the only way for students to be heard by the administration.
“The more seats for student representation, the better,” he said. “That’s the only way the administration hears our voice, that’s the only channel they hear us through. We can complain all we want, but if we don’t voice ourselves on those committees, then it’s like they don’t