Marshall Provost Rejects Council’s Comments in Appointment Decision

    SIX COLLEGES — For over 30 years, Thurgood
    Marshall
    College
    ’s
    motto has been “to develop students as scholars and citizens.” This stems from
    the college’s philosophy, which seeks to foster not only students’ academic
    excellence but also social responsibility.

    However, the recent conflict between Thurgood Marshall
    College Council and Provost Allan Havis
    looks to be just another instance in a long list of administrative
    neglect.

    But perhaps this attitude from the administration is really
    a tool to gouge the social responsibility out of students.

    UCSD undergrads are notoriously apathetic, and it’s only
    reasonable for administrators — like Havis — to undercut the importance of
    their involvement.

    So when Ashanti Hands, Marshall’s dean of student affairs,
    resigned last quarter, Havis thought little of student input when he created a
    search committee to find her replacement.

    He chartered the group over winter break — when most
    students were away for the holidays, and appointed Marshall senior Prince
    Ghuman and TMCC chair Lana Blank to the committee without a proper application
    and interview process.

    TMCC couldn’t express its frustration quickly enough. Though
    councilmembers said Blank’s appointment was expected, they were upset with the
    other appointee. Ghuman, who was chosen without the council’s knowledge or
    input, was selected simply based on his work in a Marshall dean’s office.

    Trouble erupted as Havis refused to recognize his error;
    meanwhile, Ghuman remained missing in action.

    The disagreement escalated when Marshall
    administrators refused to reschedule the search committee’s first meeting
    because of a conflict in Blank’s schedule. According to Marshall Senator Kyle
    Samia — an outspoken advocate of TMCC — Havis told Blank that the first meeting
    wasn’t vital, further implying that her presence and input were not important.

    Samia and Blank both took offense to this, saying that it is
    not up to the administrators to decide which meetings are important for students
    to attend. And they’re right; Havis has already stepped extensively on the toes
    of UCSD’s most active students — he isn’t even pretending to care about their
    opinions.

    “It’s one thing to schedule [a meeting] when I have work or
    student government,” Blank said in an e-mail. “But when I have class [it] seems
    completely unfair. Administrators can change their calendars and move meetings
    but my job is to be a student and I cannot change my class schedules.”

    But then again, from an administrative point of view this
    may appear as a further example of students’ indifference.

    Luckily, after a long debate, Havis and TMCC finally reached
    a compromise. They decided to add a separate search committee, predicated on
    the idea that it would provide a fresh perspective to the views of the existing
    committee.

    The only downside is that this new committee will not have
    voting powers, and will be able to only offer recommendations.

    Though the council attempted to convince the administration
    of the importance of voting power for the new committee, Havis wouldn’t
    compromise further.

    Last year, a similar situation occurred during a review of Marshall’s
    Dimension of Culture writing program, when the council wanted student
    participation in an important curriculum committee. The council’s request was
    rejected, however, and students were instead offered a spot on a separate
    committee without voting rights.

    These two instances, in addition to the dearth of Warren
    College Student Council involvement in the recent general education requirement
    changes, are unfortunate examples of administrative disregard.

    However, blame for the lack of communication also falls on
    students.

    Out of UCSD’s approximately 22,000 undergrads, only a small
    minority is active through student councils and organizations. Additionally,
    voter turnout for issues like referenda and student representatives — which
    directly affect students — is relatively low.

    To administrators, this implies student apathy, prompting
    them to disregard the few students who actually take an active interest in
    school government.

    As students see that they must stand up and force UCSD
    administrators to take their opinions seriously — the way TMCC members are
    attempting — they are pushed to develop into responsible citizens.

    So is there a method to what appears to be administrative
    madness? Involved students can only hope.

    Unfortunately, the average student does not have the time or
    the resources to keep themselves updated on new and upcoming policies and
    procedures. Some are too busy, while many are simply disinterested.

    But responsible on-campus citizenship doesn’t always have to
    start and end with bureaucracy. It also includes the simple act of
    participating in school activities, or voting in A.S. Council elections.

    On UCSD’s apathetic campus, students need to work
    hand-in-hand with administrators in order to have their opinions considered.
    University leaders have a long history of stubborn disinterest in student input
    — the situation with Havis is no exception — but if students are ever going to
    get their voices heard, they need to tone down the complaining and start
    working toward a mutual understanding. Administrators are never going to
    respect student suggestions when they know they can get away with ignoring
    them.

    You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar,
    and students need to take the hint: If they want to catch the attention of
    administrators, they need to get involved.

    Until then, the administration’s attitude will not change.

    Readers can contact Silhan Jin at [email protected].

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