A response from the Comm. Department

Dear Simmons Voice,

I am writing on behalf of the Communications Department in order to clear up some inaccuracies found in a letter to the Voice, posted in Issue 9, 2014-15. The anonymous student complained that a required course in her major had been cancelled, and understandably expressed her frustration at not having access to the class she needed in order to graduate.

But what the student neglected to report, in spite of her assertion that an investigation of this problem was called for and undertaken, was that as soon as she made her plight known, the professor of the Journalism course offered to teach that course as an independent study for her and any other student who needed it to graduate. A very student-centered offer, I’d say. And when CAS Associate Dean, Leanne Doherty Mason, became aware of the students’ difficulty, she immediately made sure the necessary course in Journalism was available to this student and others, on AARC. A student centered response, if there ever was one.

No one in any department likes it when their courses get cancelled: not the faculty, not the students who either need the courses for their majors, minors, or were just looking forward to taking them. And then there is also the hassle of having to reconfigure a schedule. All understandably frustrating. However, what the investigative student failed to uncover in her research, is that departments don’t have the authority to run courses that do not have enough students in them. This decision is made at a much higher level.

Lastly the student complained that 10 out of 28 courses were taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This approximation does leave almost two-thirds of the courses to be taught on the other three days of the week: some MWF, some MTh, some WF, and some meet once a week on M, T, W, or Th. The student wisely acknowledges the difficulty involved for the Chair of a department in assembling a schedule in which limited rooms must be shared and equipped with the appropriate technology, in which courses don’t conflict with one another, and in which faculty must be assigned in a way that makes it possible for them to carry out their academic duties.

I hope this letter clarifies several of the errors in the student’s letter to the editor. At the same time, I am appreciative (and I believe that my colleagues in the Communications department join me in this appreciation) of the fact that one of the things this student seemed to have learned at Simmons, in spite of her frustration, is to make herself heard, to take a stand, and to avail herself of the access to a free and vital Simmons Voice.

Ellen Grabiner, Chair, Communications Department