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E-school should not keep students in the dark

Students need to be involved in any decision which relates to their education

<p>Systems engineering students are worried that, if implemented, this merger could change the major’s curriculum.</p>

Systems engineering students are worried that, if implemented, this merger could change the major’s curriculum.

Last Wednesday, the University’s Systems and Informations Engineering department held its first meeting with undergraduate students to discuss a potential merger with the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. The discussion provided roughly 75 students an opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns on the potential merger. Student opinion was overwhelmingly opposed to the idea, and some undergraduates expressed concerns regarding student involvement in the process.

Engineering students have been wrongly kept in the dark throughout the early-stages of the process, according to fourth-year Systems Engineering student Jeannie Blackwood. Blackwood said she was never officially notified of the merger plans until the weekend before the Wednesday discussion. Administrators began discussing the merger as early as January, and the idea has been debated by faculty for the past few months. Students should have been aware of these early-stage discussions and their input should have been solicited well before the end of the school year. This lack of involvement disrespects and contradicts the principle of student self-governance.

Students also expressed concerns regarding the effect the potential merger would have on the quality of their education and their ability to follow their existing academic plans. According to Assoc. Systems Prof. Peter Beling, combining the two departments presents the Engineering School an opportunity to upgrade its research standing and improve every department in the school. However, shifting the school’s focus towards top-tier research instead of top-tier teaching would detrimentally affect undergraduates’ classroom experience. Moreover, students are concerned that the specificity of Systems and Information Engineering courses will decline as a result of the merger. Students highly value teaching professors and the existing curriculum, and the Engineering School needs to ensure the quality of teaching is not even slightly affected by the merger.

Students need to be involved in any decisions which concern their education, and the Engineering School has a responsibility to ensure student involvement in a merger which could drastically change their academic plans. While improving the school’s research standing certainly has its benefits, it must not come at students’ expense.