By Charles Ratliff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
In an effort to quell rumors resulting from Provost Paul Sypherd's recent recommendation, journalism faculty called an informational meeting last night for students who might be concerned with the status of their department.
"The purpose of the meeting is to primarily explain where we stand and where we're going," said Donald Carson, journalism professor.
The journalism department found itself on Sypherd's hit list last week when the provost recommended that several departments be eliminated in the next two to four years. Journalism, per his recommendation, would be officially phased out as of May 1998.
"As far as we're concerned we're going to be here for another three and a half
years," Carson told over 60 journalism students who attended the meeting held in the Franklin Building's basement.
At the meeting Carson reviewed the steps journalism faculty, students and alumni had taken in trying to dissuade the provost's decision, from letter writing campaigns to President Manuel Pacheco and the Arizona Board of Regents to closed door, informational, face-to-face meetings with Sypherd and Pacheco involving leaders in the journalism community.
"All of these efforts haven't worked, as we found out last week when the provost made his recommendation," Carson said.
Carson told students, however, to continue the effort by writing letters to the Arizona Board of Regents, legislators and President Pacheco himself.
"President Pacheco said he received 1,200 letters," said Carson. "He told me he never wanted to see another 1,200 letters again." He said he hoped students and alumni could generate twice that many in the coming months in order to flood the president's office.
Carson said he wanted resident students to encourage their parents, especially those who pay the bills for students attending the university, to write letters to Pacheco as well.
Jacqueline Sharkey, journalism professor, said it is no longer feasible to write letters that basically say, "Save journalism!"
"I would urge you, in your letters, to phrase them in such a way that journalism should continue as part of another unit," Sharkey said.
Sharkey said that letters should positively reflect the idea that merging journalism with another department Ä for example, communications Ä would be fiscally responsible for the university.
"If this program, as it exists, is gone, that's okay, as long as it's the beginning of something new," she said.
Getting involved with the Student Action Committee is another avenue journalism students have to speak out on the future of their department.
"It's time to let him [Sypherd] know that students do exist at this university," said Thomas Cyr, journalism graduate student.
He said that the committee has recently started to take shape after forming late last spring when the department first learned it was in danger of being eliminated. Students were given the opportunity at the meeting to join the committee.
Carson said that the recommendation to phase out the program by spring 1998 would allow currently enrolled students to complete their degree requirements.
C. Bickford Lucas, journalism professor and undergraduate advisor, said that non-declared students should still be allowed to elect or to change their major to journalism.
"And, as far as we're concerned, Pima Community College students who want to transfer into the journalism department are still in the pipeline," he said.
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