According to today’s Observer, the University of Notre Dame student government has decided the dissolution of the Department of Economics and Policy Studies is one of the “issues of most pressing concern” to students, and communicated just that to a committee of the Board of Trustees.
Here are excerpts from the article:
Students are concerned by College of Arts and Letters Dean John McGreevy’s lack of transparency as he moves to dissolve the Department of Economics and Policy Studies, student government chief of staff Ryan Brellenthin said.
“The decisions were made without student input and the process was not revealed to the student body,” Brellenthin said.
“It was almost as if they were hoping students weren’t paying attention,” he said.
Students are concerned that closing the department will narrow the economics education at Notre Dame, Brellenthin said. They are also concerned that this decision sets a precedent that students will be excluded from future academic decisions.
“Very little attention has been focused on the 400 students who are economics majors,” Brellenthin said. “No efforts have been made to engage student opinion on the topic.”
Schmidt said he is an economics major, but he first heard about the plans to dissolve the department from The Observer.
“We weren’t told about it,” Schmidt said.
The dissolution of Economics and Policy Studies will be voted on at the next meeting of the Academic Council, Brellenthin, who is one of the four students who serve on the academic council, said. “We can make statements against the dissolution, and we certainly will, but it has been on the agenda to dissolve before we could put it on the agenda to discuss,” he said.
Brellenthin said faculty members are also concerned about the dissolution of the department.
“They are asking what will happen if professors who teach something that isn’t the mainstream theory are pushed out,” he said.
“The fear is that the academic council is just going to be a rubber stamp” on McGreevy’s decision to dissolve the department, Schmidt said.
One trustee expressed her surprise after Weber ranked the dissolution of the department as the second most critical issue for students, but the issue is about students’ wanting to be respected, according to Brellenthin.
Brellenthin cited reports that McGreevy described the dissolution of the department as “too sensitive an issue for debate.”
“We respect the administration and the professors as top-tier educators, but we want to be respected as top-tier students,” Brellenthin said.