By: Jack Yochum
CSU 2.0 is branded as the future path for how Cleveland State University will grow, shrink, and evolve in the coming years. Some of the major tenets of this plan include college consolidation, optimizing course and section offerings, and reimagining research centers and libraries. While I understand the need and incentive for many of these benefits, a closer look reveals that many proposals are detached from- or just plain harmful to- the students. The task force’s interim document, released on Sept. 14, outlines six alternatives for college realignment that would bring us from eleven colleges to five or six, as well as the benefits and drawbacks for each.
Some of the proposals include combining social work and psychology into a general health sciences college (Alternative D); the creation of a STEM college with hard sciences, technology, engineering, and math (Alternatives A, B, and D); or the common thread of merging education with liberal arts. While some of these options could work, the justifications listed are flimsy and feel out of touch with the character of each program.
A focal point of the plan is joining urban affairs with other departments, namely social sciences, education, business, and/or social work. As a student of the current Levin College of Urban Affairs, making blanket statements about how the work of departments on campus has an “urban focus” and using that as the sole justification for consolidation undermines the uniqueness and prestige offered by our urban affairs programs.
For instance, look at the non-profit administration program at Levin. Non-profit organizations work to fill in the gaps that can’t be addressed by the public sector, and, assuming that we are combined with business, that perspective could be distorted.
Proposed efficiency also comes at the cost of departmental consolidation, with one of the more controversial possibilities being merging chemistry and physics. If this initiative passes, Dr. Jearl Walker, one of the most esteemed professors and authors at the university known worldwide for The Flying Circus of Physics, would have to relocate due to the possibility of a merged department weakening the work done by those employed by it. These changes will strip programs of their integrity and character if mishandled.
We have to ask, to what end does this better the university? The stated drawbacks for these alternatives include reevaluating tenure policy, restructuring college representation, and vague, unintended costs that may outweigh the benefits. It is not my intention to attack the university, but students feel betrayed. COVID-19 has caused financial strain on this institution, and it is also conveniently preventing us from having on-campus dialogues about these plans.
Using COVID-19 budgeting as an excuse to streamline this initiative is disrespectful and short-sighted. This is a plea not to the university, but to the present and future student body: make sure that changes in the coming years only benefit your cohort. If you want to learn more, visit the interim report. To show support, please sign the petitions from Levin and the Department of Physics.