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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students have options to voice curriculum concerns

Published: January 14, 2005
Section: News

A Dec. 9 forum in Levin Ballroom gave students a chance to voice their opinions regarding the proposed curriculum changes. The forum was designed to give students the opportunity to learn more about the Arts and Sciences strategic planning process and to express their concerns about it. Over one hundred community members attended the forum. Previously, Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe appeared in front of the Student Union Senate and took questions. These two events have been the only opportunities presented to students to have their voices heard with regard to the proposed curriculum changes.

The Faculty Review Committee (FRC) established by Profost Marty Krauss in consultation with the Faculty Senate is currently reviewing the Dean's proposals and will issue a public report on Feb. 15.

What we decided is, at the moment there is probably not that much more to be gained by additional discussion, Jaffe told The Hoot. What we thought we would do, is after the faculty committee issues its report, the Provost said there will be a two week period when she will take further comments.

Krauss told The Hoot that she has not planned any future student forums and probably will not plan any until after the report is released.

After the report is released, “well work with the student leadership and have some opportunity or opportunities for student input at that point, Jaffe said.

Despite being left out of the formal process, students have a few options in making their views known.

“Students with concerns or ideas about the Arts and Sciences planning process can contact me,” Director of Academic Affairs for the Student Union Alan Tannenwald '05 wrote in an e-mail to The Hoot. “I in turn relay their concerns and ideas to the Faculty Review Committee and/or the Dean and the Provost.”

Tannenwald also suggested that students may contact the Faculty Review Committee directly by e-mailing their mailing list at

Tannenwald said that two Union representatives are allowed to attend each faculty meeting and one of these representatives is permitted to speak before the faculty if he desires. The Student Union has taken advantage of this opportunity, he said.

“The Student Union has done a number of things to represent students in this process,” he said. “Student Union officers, especially those in the Executive Office, have met and will continue to meet with the Dean of Arts and Sciences, the Provost, and Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy regularly to relay student ideas and concerns about the changes.”

The Student Union has been attempting to ascertain student views on the issue by conducting a comprehensive survey about academic life at Brandeis in which some questions asked students to list academic areas they want to see strengthened or left alone, according to Tannenwald.

“In addition, the Provost's Advisory Committee, a group of several students appointed by the President of the Union to advise the Provost on significant curricular/academic issues, has been charged with advising the Provost about student views regarding this process,” Tannenwald told The Hoot.

The committee is comprised of five appointed students. Jason Brodsky '05, the Academic Affairs Advisor to the Student Union Presidential Advisory Cabinet told The Hoot that the committee meets with the Provost monthly to discuss the proposed curriculum changes and other academic issues at Brandeis.

“The committee is a representative body which strives to serve Brandeis students,” he said. “This committee was created in order to legitimize the process of implementing these new proposed curriculum changes.”

Brodsky stated that as of now, students should be reminded that these are proposed curriculum changes and have not yet been implemented.

“Jaffe's propositions are suggestions and they are being discussed within the FRC,” he said. “Our job is to serve in an advisory capacity to the Provost, who is a member of the University Integrated Planning Committee.”

As of now, the proposed curriculum changes are still being discussed and debated.

Brodsky said he thinks the Dec. 9 student forum was a huge success because administrators, students, faculty and staff were able to engage in a campus-wide discussion of the proposed changes.

Students can contact their elected Union officials, such as Executive Office members and Union Senators if they wish to express their view, said Brodsky. He also suggested that students view the new integrated planning web site using keyword “integrated” from the Brandeis home page.

“There is a comment section, whereby student can submit their comments online,” Brodsky told The Hoot. “In addition, students can visit the Student Union web site with and find the email addresses of all student officials involved in this process.”

Krauss told The Hoot that shed be happy to work with the students on another forum if asked. However, she said that ultimately the decision will lie with the faculty.

The curriculum is really the facultys decision. Its useful to get students input, but these people have devoted their lives to being in the University, she told The Hoot. You are here for four years, [so] their judgment is really going to be dispositive.