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April 4, 2014

Fight for us, say students

By Daniel Herda and James Ryan

open forum

A day before the Faculty Senate passed a no confidence motion, 31-11, against the university administration, on April 2, President Berkman invited students and faculty to an open forum in MC Auditorium to answer questions regarding curriculum changes and new block schedule changes. The auditorium was overflowing to the extent there were concerns of fire code violations.

The President opened with a lengthy rationale for the changes, which were mostly about student success and graduation rates and how these two issues connect. The lengthy monologue made many students in the audience impatient, which set the stage for confrontation and heckling.

“I can’t take five classes in a day and go to work,” said one concerned student speaking directly to Berkman. “You say this will be implemented in 2014, but I’m a freshman. If you’re going to keep my four-credit-hour classes until I graduate that’s fine, but if you’re going to change my classes to three-credit-hour courses – who can I talk to that’s over you to keep my schedule as it is?”

Berkman continued by pointing to other universities who’ve already implemented a three-credit hour system. He also pointed out that the 3-to-4 credit hour conversion will not affect current students. But students expressed their mistrust toward Berkman because they weren’t included in the final decision by the administration.

Sarah Thompson, a non-traditional student like most Cleveland State students, pleaded to the president for a university that works around commuter students who work and have kids.

“What I would like you to do is fight for us,” said Thompson. “Fight for our university to stay different.” She went on to say that she wouldn’t be able to take classes on the three-credit block schedule that is set to take place in Fall 2014.

Berkman told students that the credit hour change would only affect new (Fall 2014) students enrolled in general education courses, but faculty were told before the meeting that all classes would be converted. Many walked away from the forum with questions unanswered.

“A one-hour open forum is not long enough and my questions didn’t get answered,” said Lena Vidah, professor of Japanese. “Not all courses are created equal. The board of directors don’t teach these courses. I teach a five-credit-hour course, and that’s not long enough.”

For more information concerning the changes, visit http://csuohio.edu/offices/president/initiatives-forum.pdf.