Students mobilize to protest the FSR

Alasdair Padman, Editor in Chief

At 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, Whitman students will gather outside of Memorial Hall to protest changes to the major declaration process in light of the Financial Sustainability Review (FSR).

Under the instruction of Provost, Alzada Tipton, the Registrar’s Office has temporarily restricted first years from declaring their majors.

In an email from Tipton to Fielding on Tuesday, Feb. 9, she wrote, “While eliminating programs is not recommended in the draft reports, this hold will stay in place until the end of the FSR process to avoid foreclosing options prematurely and leave open as many avenues as possible to achieve short term cost savings.”

In response, the #BecauseWeLoveWhitman campaign has organized a symbolic major declaration session for Friday. In the press release, Schaefer and alum North Bennett write, “Students of all grades will gather to support first-years as they symbolically declare, calling on the college to affirm their rights as paying students to pursue the endangered programs that attracted them to Whitman in the first place.”

Historically, students have used their ability to declare their major at any time to ensure that Whitman continues to offer particular majors. With that avenue of protest no longer available, students are looking for other ways to show their support for their intended or declared majors.

Schaefer and Bennett write, “As recently as 2018 the college was considering gutting advanced Greek courses, so sophomores declared Classics in order to preserve the program for their tenure at Whitman.”

In addition to opposing the restrictions placed on first year declarations, the protest is meant to demonstrate the “strong interest current students hold in preserving the humanities, fine arts and Whitman’s well-rounded liberal arts curriculum.”

Schaefer and Bennett concluded their press release with this statement: “The scale of the academic cuts were blindsiding, and many students have intellectual and financial investment into the endangered departments. The FSR committees’ transparency was after-the-fact and vaguely informative at best, and bureaucratically exclusive at worst. Voices remain unheard in current administrative decision making processes, and the protest Friday aims to elevate the agency of paying students who care deeply about the liberal arts mission.”

Students will begin gathering outside of Memorial Hall at 2 p.m.


Update: The Wire erroneously stated that the Registrar’s Office made the decision to put the hold on first-years declaring their majors. However, we were made aware that the quote was from Provost Alzada Tipton and that she had instructed the Registrar’s Office to put the hold in place.

In an email to The Wire on Friday, Feb. 26, Registrar Stacey Giusti wrote, “I can confirm that any policy change regarding first year students declaring majors came from the President and Cabinet.  The Registrar’s Office had nothing to do with this decision.”