Students across Bradley’s campus gathered to discuss and protest the proposed program cuts after University President Stephen Standifird’s announcement on Nov. 6.
Following his report, news of faculty cuts spread to students via word of mouth, leading to additional confusion and outcries of support for affected professors.
Student Senate hosted a forum on Monday where students and faculty could ask questions and voice their concerns. President of University Senate Teresa Drake was present to answer questions about the program review process.
Drake was joined by Immediate Past President Mat Timm, Foster College Representative Eden Blair and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Representative Kristi McQuade.
At the forum, members of the Student Senate informed students where they could direct their questions. Drake and Student Body President Jack Batz answered questions to the best of their abilities.
“I think the faculty [senate] did the best they could,” junior psychology major Erica Chessier said. “Obviously they are faculty here so they don’t want to put their jobs on the line but they were as transparent as they could be … we don’t know what’s true and what’s not, so at least here [the forum] we were able to get some factual information.”
Students were curious about Standifird’s reaction when presented with faculty recommendations for program cuts.
“We provided our recommendations the Wednesday beforehand,” Drake said. “We did have a couple of meetings with the president and provost after that, but did not do any kind of negotiation. Then his recommendations came out, but we did not see them beforehand.”
While students asked questions hoping for answers, Student Senate and Drake were not able to provide much clarification, responding that certain questions must be directed to Standifird.
Some of the responses from the senate drew a reaction from the audience, especially one concerning communication between the University Senate and the president.
“Just to your frustration, we talked several times to the president about: ‘Are you going to get student input on this process?’ as well because we thought that was important,” Blair said. “The only argument I heard from him was that you have talked with your feet by choosing the majors you have.”
Students also spoke out on Tuesday at Founder’s Circle during a protest organized by Sarah Wilhoit, Assistant Professor of Integrated Humanities In-Residence.
The Pre-law Club, in collaboration with other student organizations, held a poster making event the previous day.
Several students felt emotional seeing their peers united to show support for affected academic programs and faculty.
“Honestly it just makes me more sad that we had to gather like this in the first place because you’d think attending college, an academic institution, the last thing you would have to be fighting for is to keep our classes,” sophomore marketing major Jayden Lamb said.
Many students who participated in the protest or spoke were directly impacted by the program cuts.
“I received an iPad through the philosophy department through an exploration program in order to help with my philosophy and ethics minors,” sophomore advertising and public relations major Kullan Le Blanc said. “I then found out Monday that they were completely cutting the philosophy and ethics and religious studies department as a whole.”
In addition to students, a few faculty members were present at the demonstration to voice their concerns and stand in solidarity with their colleagues.
“I am out here for two reasons. One is for our students, they are going to get the short end of the stick on this,” associate professor of Political Science Megan Remmel said. “Two, a bunch of my friends are losing their jobs and they’re losing their jobs through no fault of their own. So as far as I’m concerned I need to be out here to make sure that I can try and protect as many of my friends and colleagues as possible.”
It was also heartwarming for professors to see students supporting their faculty.
“I’m just so heartened to see all of the students out here sharing their voices, coming together and standing in unity to oppose these cuts,” Wilhoit said.
Students and faculty had the opportunity to participate in a sit-in at a University Senate meeting with Standifird on Thursday.
The faculty senate passed a vote of no confidence for both Standifird and Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Walter Zakahi.
Standifird understands the significance of this vote as well as the opinions of students and faculty.
“I recognize the discontent among some members of the faculty, and I am not dismissive of the sentiments expressed in the vote,” Standifird said in a statement. “While the results are disappointing, I will continue to work toward a successful and sustainable future for the university. I believe our collective efforts as a university community and our shared commitment to Bradley and our students will endure.”
University Senate will host another sit-in on Dec. 6 as everyone prepares for Standifird’s final decisions regarding which programs will be discontinued.