Student Senator Sends Diploma Survey

Photo Courtesy of SUNY New Paltz Flickr

A survey was recently sent out to SUNY New Paltz students concerning knowledge on diplomas and whether or not they were interested in seeing changes in diplomas received at graduation.

On Friday, Feb. 15, student senator Sampson Oppedisano sent an email to New Paltz students via Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Ray Schwarz to see where students stand on their knowledge of diplomas and how they are presented. Diplomas currently given out by SUNY New Paltz do not list the majors or minors of the student. Diplomas only say which school the student received their bachelor’s degree in.

Oppedisano said his hope for seeing a change in diplomas first began when he was running for student senate last spring. Senate Chair Yaritza Diaz had said then that she wanted to see majors and minors on the diploma, and Oppedisano shared her desire.

“I remember when I first heard that our majors and minors were not going to be printed on the diploma I was kind of pissed,” Oppedisano said. “Students spend a lot of money and hard work on getting a degree and I feel like not having it printed on the diploma leaves some of that hard work to go unrecognized.”

Oppedisano put the survey together with the use of Survey Monkey and left it open for students to respond within several days after its release. The survey asked students their year, if they were double majoring or minoring and whether or not they knew their majors or minors were not printed on the diploma.

In total, 956 students took the survey. Of that number, 13.91 percent identified as first-year students, 19.04 percent identified as second-years, 22.70 identified as third-years, 32.64 percent identified as fourth-years and 11.72 percent listed themselves as other. Most students who took the survey said they were not double majoring, with 16.74 percent of students saying they were.

Concerning their knowledge on whether majors or minors would be printed on the diploma, an overwhelming 70.82 percent said they were unaware, compared to the  29.18 percent that said the opposite.

Oppedisano said when he approached students directly, the results were similar.

“When I would talk to students and especially upperclassmen and tell them that their diplomas would not have their major or minor on them, a lot of them were really shocked,” he said.

Third-year psychology major Jeanine Folkl is graduating in May and said she did not know her major would not be printed on the diploma before the survey. She said she believes there is no reason for the information to not be printed on the diploma.

“I feel like that’s something that should definitely be on there,” Folkl said. “If you’re putting all of your time and credits into getting a degree, you should be recognized for it on your diploma.”

The survey then gave students three options to choose from in terms of changing the diplomas. The first option was to have just majors printed on the diploma and students with a double major would have to choose one major to go on the diploma. The second choice offered students a diploma with no majors on it, but a second document that looks similar to the diploma with all majors and minors on it. Any student who has graduated during President Donald Christian’s tenure as university president would be able to get one of these certificates. The third option called for no changes to the diplomas.

The second option was most popular among students with 54.71 percent of the votes. The first option garnered 40.79 percent of the votes and 4.50 percent of students chose the third option.

Third-year secondary education major Stephanie Cabrera said she chose the second option and that students should be recognized for all of the work that they do.

“Our majors and minors are listed everywhere, so I don’t understand why they wouldn’t be listed there when we finish our degrees,” Cabrera said. “When I graduate, I want every bit of proof I can get that says I worked hard for the degree I got and what I got my degree in.”

Oppedisano said that even with results coming back and being calculated, it is still early in the process and the technical issues concerning questions such as how much the changes could potentially cost still need to be worked out. He said he is currently working with Vice President of Enrollment Management L. David Eaton and Records and Registration Registrar Bernadette Morris throughout the process.

Administration declined to put out an official statement and said it was too early to discuss any progress in the potential changes to the diplomas.

Oppedisano said while it is still early, the results look encouraging and he is hopeful that changes will be made in the future.

“I’m really happy that almost 1,000 students took the survey and it garnered such a positive response,” he said. “I think it’s very possible to see these changes and I think this will be a very good thing for everyone.”