Letter to the Editor: ASWC President Carson Burns

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I am writing to express the need for student input on the curriculum. Historically, this is an area in which students have had little say at Whitman. On March 30, we have the opportunity to gain this voice. The faculty will vote to accept or deny a proposal for student representation on the newly-formed Curriculum Committee. This committee will start meeting next year to address enrollment pressure, course scheduling and routine curricular matters–all of which directly impact students on a daily basis. Of course, the faculty have the right and responsibility to determine the curriculum. However, if Whitman truly is the open, collaborative community it professes to be, the college would be best served by allowing the recipients of the curriculum to participate.

Student representation will serve the committee in three ways. First, students provide a unique experiential perspective on the curriculum much different than that of the faculty, and student input will ensure that well-informed decisions are made. Second, students can provide instant feedback to the committee or easily poll the student body on important issues. Third, student representatives can effectively disseminate information and communicate the rational for decisions to the student body.

The student voice has been narrowed in the broadest sense with the recent elimination of the Faculty Policy Committee, which had student members. More importantly, students have the opportunity to provide input on curricular matters at all but one of our peer institutions on similar curriculum committees. If you believe Whitman students should have a voice on our new Curriculum Committee, please let your professors know the next time you talk one-on-one, or send them an e-mail.   Student participation in decision making is essential for both effectively addressing enrollment pressure and continuing to advance this college.

Sincerely,

Carson Burns
ASWC President