Letters to the Editor

Why we changed the JEC charter

Our student government is broken. While most student governments are weak and ineffective, ours is particularly appalling because its members no longer try.

When I was a freshman senator at my former school, SUNY Rockland Community College, we accomplished little, but at least we were trying. The Student Association’s biggest accomplishment last semester was getting a new copy machine.

I ran for the SA Senate because I’m passionate about fixing the problems posed by Student Judicial Services. Instead of confronting the issues we all want resolved, the SA Senate has let another year slip away to internal reforms. I’ve spent my time in the SA Senate confirming people for positions that don’t do anything, and debating over the ever-longer and more complicated rules and bylaws. This year we’ve rewritten the bylaws, the Senate Rules and the Joint Elections Committee Charter, yet no one is any better off.

Last week, I’d finally had enough. The SA Senate and the JEC were haggling over a series of changes to the new edition of the JEC Charter. Most of the changes were relatively uncontroversial, but for some reason the rhetoric just kept getting more heated. I knew I couldn’t watch yet another meeting go by where we weren’t going to get anything done, so I proposed that we go into an executive session.

We had a chance to get to the root of the problem without tempers flaring. But, the real problem was that we had to meet behind closed doors to handle a few simple questions. Instead of dealing with issues that students actually care about, we were meeting behind closed doors to deal with internal reforms.

We should spend our time meeting with administrators – instead of fighting fights that no one cares about – educating ourselves on the issues and talking to our fellow students about how we can make GW better for all of us.

It is our job to make critical changes clear to the University. We need to know the issues, because anything less is nothing short of a disgrace. And we need to talk to our fellow students, because they’re what really matter at the end of the day.

Jason Kaplan, a junior majoring in political communication, is a senator for the Columbian College.

Clairification on the GSPM search

Two pieces concerning the search for a Graduate School of Political Management executive director were published in recent editions of The Hatchet. I would like to take the opportunity to clarify some misconceptions.

Six of the nine members of the search committee are members of the University faculty. One is a part-time faculty member in the College of Professional Studies, and a distinguished political science professor is chair. Candidates for the position gave lectures and forums that were open to all: students, alumni, administrators, adjunct faculty and full-time faculty. The search has followed all of the high standards set for such committees by the University, including faculty involvement.

I respect the search committee process. The search committee, with its faculty orientation, conducts the outreach, interviews candidates and makes recommendations. It is a process that does not directly involve me as the dean, though I will make the final decision concerning the outcome.

I discussed the need for a terminal degree with faculty and members of the upper administration. Along with faculty, I preferred a terminal degree, which tends to bring a record of thoughtfulness in considering longer-term trends – whether through publications, research or otherwise.

Faculty members who have valuable, current practical experience continue to be essential and within the rich tradition of GSPM. This semester, 59 percent of the part-time faculty teaching courses in GSPM are practitioners who do not have terminal degrees but who are rich in practical expertise. That said, in an academic setting, leadership credentials are generally necessary for good working relationships among faculty as well as to enhance the value of a program and the value of a student’s graduate degree. We are fortunate in the District because there are a number of people who hold terminal degrees outside of academia. In recent years, as many as 44 percent of Congressional members have held terminal degrees, especially the juris doctor.?However, I do recognize that there can be room for honest disagreement on this point. The Hatchet’s reference to Frank Sesno, who holds a bachelor’s degree, offers one example. Mr. Sesno provides extraordinary and experienced School of Media and Public Affairs leadership, as we all recognize.

I fully appreciate the opportunity to comment.

Dr. Kathleen M. Burke is the dean of the College of Professional Studies.

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