ICYMI: Student Senate writes a letter to SLC administration expressing class size concerns

On January 30th, 2014 the Undergraduate Student senate sent this letter of concern to administration members regarding the growing class sizes and it’s impact on our pedagogy.

The letter can be seen below:


Letter of Concern Regarding The Size of the College and The Integrity of Our Pedagogy

To:

The Board of Trustees

John Hill, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Nancie Cooper, Vice Chair of the Board
Myra Drucker, Honorary Trustee
Karen Lawrence, President
Vincent Massaro, Vice President for Finance and Operations
Kevin McKenna, Dean of Enrollment
Thomas Blum, Vice President of Administration
Jerrilynn Dodds, Dean of the College

Cc:

Allen Green, Dean of Studies and Student Life and Chief Diversity Officer
Kyle Wilkie, Assistant Vice President for Operations
Maureen Gallagher, Assistant Vice President for Facilities

The Sarah Lawrence College Undergraduate Student Senate understands the concerns of the Board of Trustees and thus their desire to increase the size of the College. While we do not disagree with a larger student body in principle, we wish to express several of our concerns regarding the implications of this decision.

We believe:

(i) That increasing the size of the incoming class cannot be viewed one-dimensionally as a solution; the College and its Board of Trustees must pay critical attention to how large incoming classes can, in fact, create additional problems.

(ii) These problems spread throughout the College, affecting student quality of life and putting a strain on our resources in terms of housing, student space, food services, and the library, to name a few.

(iii) Most importantly, the increased size of the College has stretched our curricular resources and our faculty to a highly concerning degree; as the size of the student body has increased rapidly, the size of our regular faculty has barely grown at all.

(iv) If this pattern continues, with first-year classes of 425 students, our system of First-Year Studies will become unsustainable. 

We call on the College and the Board of Trustees to consider carefully the ramifications of the decision to increase incoming class sizes. While increased class sizes may be justified as a move of financial necessity, we as students ask not to be treated solely as economic solutions who bring in revenue, but as people who need our housing, our space, our library, our curriculum, our faculty. We understand that the college faces real world problems, but the Board must realize that the current course of action will have echoing negative repercussions without additional safeguards on the pedagogy.

We ask that if the College and the Trustees agree to take on larger class sizes, they provide the financial, structural, and institutional support necessary to maintain student quality of life and to uphold the integrity of our pedagogy.

We demand more regular faculty: we ask for a regular faculty that grows with the size of the College. We stand in solidarity with Sarah Lawrence faculty, who have seen their benefits cut but are at the same time asked to take on the demands of larger and larger class sizes.

We thank you for your time and consideration, and we look forward to establishing an open dialogue.

The Sarah Lawrence College Undergraduate Student Senate

Note: Letter published with omissions based on inaccurate or unsupportable information


Certain members of the college administration have contested this letter and its estimates in a letter sent to the Undergraduate Student Senate that has not been made public yet. Emily Rogers ’15, who chaired the committee that wrote this letter, said “The spirit of the letter was not to make preemptive assertions or to "call out" the administration. Rather, it was simply to ask, "What's your plan?" and to reaffirm our need to maintain quality of student life and our pedagogy.” Rogers chose to chair that committee because she felt that students weren’t being adequately informed on the growing size of the college.

by Rachel Molland '15
rmolland@gm.slc.edu

 

 

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