The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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English grad students request A.S. support in reinstating thesis program


CSUN President, Dr. Jolene Koester presents one of her favorite passages from Chaim Potok’s “The Chosen” in her invocation to the A.S. senate during Tuesday’s meeting. Koester read the passage in hopes that it would help those who were struggling with the notion of purpose as she had. (Christianna Triolo / Staff Photographer)


Inspired by President Jolene Koester’s invocation speech encouraging students to engage in something that gives meaning to their lives, eight English graduate students asked A.S. to support the re-establishment of their thesis program.

“A blink of an eye itself is nothing, but the eye that blinks, that is something,” Koester said quoting Chaim Potok’s book, “The Chosen,” at Tuesday’s A.S. meeting. “A span of a life is nothing, but the man who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning so that its quality is immeasurable.”
Koester said meaning is not automatically given to life and that we have to fill it with meaning ourselves.

“I would like to echo what President Koester just said about meaning,” said Omar Zalmanowitz, an English graduate student, during open forum. “If we’re not allowed to write our thesis, we have no meaning. The eye, the thesis, is what we’ve worked for, what we’ve studied, and what we’ve produced. This is what counts for us.”

Zalmanowitz, along with seven other English Creative Writing graduate students, attended open forum to ask A.S. for help in continuing their thesis program because all three options of the English graduate program will not be offered any longer.

Students and faculty discovered about six weeks into the semester that the program had been canceled, said senior Loretta McCormick.

“We should be cycled out,” McCormick said. “At the bare minimum, (CSUN) owes the thesis to the students it was promised to.”

McCormick added that current masters students will continue to be covered under the conditions of their particular catalog year.

Creative writing student, Andzhela Keshishyon, said that at least the students coming in wouldn’t expect to produce a thesis. She said the thesis option was a deciding factor for her to come and would not be here if the class was not offered.

“All of us are really united about this,” McCormick said.

Senior Keshishyon said “it’s awful” students will not be able to complete their thesis.

“It takes away from the value of the department,” she said.

The thesis programs were cut because a system of deferred compensations, which allowed the thesis work to be open, is no longer legally permitted, McCormick said. She said a professor sued the union because he was never compensated for the work he did, which is a violation of the union contract.

“We want both (teachers and students) to benefit,” McCormick said. “By no means do we want teachers to not get paid. The bottom line is that we want our thesis back.”

Manoukian and Senator Guyon McCormick said they have been working with administrators and faculty to find an answer.

According to an e-mail sent out to students by Graduate Advisor, Dr. Anthony Dawahare, professors associated with the thesis options have each taken a different approach on how to deal with the problem.

The proposed plan for next year for the creative writing option will be to add two new one unit 500-level creative writing courses and two unit 500-level creative writing courses. As well as a reduction in the number of English 208 courses available.

According to Dawahare this should allow the creative writing thesis to continue to be an option during the regular semesters but it still has to be approved by the College of Humanities Academic Council and the university’s Graduate Studies Committee.

The faculty of Rhetoric and Composition Theory and Literature, which are the two other thesis options for English, are moving in a different direction.

Faculty have agreed to allow students in these other thesis options to take the thesis classes during summer or winter sessions and a new 3-unit seminar will be offered during regular sessions as a substitute for the thesis class.

The department should know the outcome of the proposal in mid-May, Dawahare said.

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