I read your Op-Ed piece “Student voices are not being heard” (April 5) and if it’s any consolation, the faculty often finds itself in the same position. But I know it’s not and I do commend you for speaking up.
To effect change, however, students will have to be not only vocal, but also persistent, and be willing to take action. The food service workers’ decision to unionize is a case in point. Over the past few decades, more and more universities, La Verne among them, have adopted a business approach to higher education, instead of a more progressive and democratic educational model.
Typically, business models are top down and violate some of the most basic tenets of what higher education should be. Part of students’ education should involve being consulted on issues that affect them, even if in the end the final decision is not theirs. In the process, both students and administrators learn something, and it may even result in wiser decisions by the administration.
These are missed opportunities by a university that purports to put students first. Increasing the number of students dramatically, without increasing the number of full-time faculty and academic space to teach them, belies the claim as well. But if students do not insist on being heard, it will not happen. The following observation by the former slave and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, is instructive: “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” Faculty should take this to heart as well.
Professor of Sociology