A good amount of the time, CSUN administrators are doing the right thing. By “the right thing,” we mean that they have the best interests of both the student body and the entire university at heart when making decisions, even if the decisions are potentially controversial, or worst yet, painful.
Placating students isn’t necessarily what’s best for students, and we think the administration understands that. Even so, students like to be pandered to every now and again, just like any social group. Sometimes we like to be coddled. Sometimes we like to be told unrealistic plans if they sound fun.
And better yet, sometimes we like to be sold on big ideas as if the university was a salesperson and we were the clients. It makes us feel like we’re worth the effort.
Throughout the last month, the Los Angeles Daily News has exclusively played host to these sales pitches, and frankly put, we’re not OK with that.
A university-appointed General Education Task Force has produced a plan to reform the G.E. model CSUN students currently use to allow for more freedom and fluidity in G.E. course selection. A reduction in the amount of G.E. units each student needs in each G.E. category will give students more freedom in their academic plans, which should theoretically allow students new options for taking minors and pursuing electives or career-centered interests. The plan will presumably be approved by the CSU system, and could go into effect as soon as next year.
In its entirety, the plan isn’t such a bad idea. We believe that for this plan to work, serious attention must be paid to “reforming” academic advisement, since more academic planning freedom is a dangerous weapon without the safety of careful and professional guidance. But all in all, this thing could really work out well for students.
The Daily News recently published a news story about G.E. reform plans at CSUN. (Ironically, the writer called the Daily Sundial office to get an eventually unused student quote from an editor regarding the change.) After that, an editorial was published on the same topic, voicing an official position for the paper. Then, a letter to the editor was sent in and published. And on May 8, the Daily News published a guest commentary by four individuals very close to the G.E. reform debate: CSUN Faculty Senate President Ronald McIntyre, Educational Policies Committee Chair Diane Schwartz, GETF Chair Jennifer Matos and Provost Harold Hellenbrand.
The amount of attention the paper gave to this reform plan, which isn’t even that drastic compared to G.E. models at other CSUs, was tremendous. But the Daily News has always covered our university well, so that was expected.
What was really noteworthy was that this well written and completely relevant guest commentary was published only in the Daily News. It’s likely that very few students actually know what’s going on with G.E. reform, or even that change is on the horizon.
Admittedly, the plan won’t affect current students, as it’s not a retroactive fix, but that’s not the point. Current students probably have a lot to stay about G.E. reform, and even if they don’t, they should still be properly informed. A small Associated Students delegation in these discussions was fitting, but incomplete. Maybe students will want it to be a pseudo-retroactive reform plan. We’ll never know. And the excuse of, “Well, it’s only a plan, so why sell it to students so soon?” doesn’t fly, because then why would they try to sell it to the Daily News readership?
The Sundial has covered the G.E. reform as both a news story and an editorial. But the more the merrier. The guest commentary sent to the Daily News should have been sent to our publication as well, as it’s something we would have happily published for students. The Sundial’s previous editorial position on the matter is borderline inconsequential without the other side of the debate, and that’s what the guest commentary, which actually made a fantastic case for reform, provided for the Daily News. The sad part is that the there are not 8,000 free copies of the Daily News available all across campus every day.
It should be mentioned that this is not simply a matter of damaged pride for the Sundial editorial board. The administration’s position could have been made available to students in a variety of other ways; the university even seems to be a fan of mass e-mail these days, so why not use that method? For us, it’s not a matter of the plan being right or wrong for the university, because it’s becoming clear that, if properly administered, the plan is more than right.
The problem, yet again, is that the university isn’t trying to sell it to students. The change in payment policies at University Cash Services is another recent example of this. In that case, the university had a dud on its hands, so it’s more understandable as to why word wasn’t spread around with a wink and a smile. But with this reform plan, they might just have a winner on their hands, as they did with the quasi-crowded Big Show 5.
It’s time to master the art of pandering. Let’s give it a go, shall we?
Unsigned editorials represent the majority view of the Sundial editorial board and do not necessarily represent the views of the entire staff.