I am a student assistant for one of the professors who was featured in last Sunday's "60 Minutes," Dr. Jon Solomon. I've been listening to all of the administrational/professorial moaning since then, and I have a few observations.
1) No one has said that the segment was wrong (namely because it wasn't). Research is obviously a key factor at this university. However, it does not take any priority over the students. There are far too many people on this campus who have forgotten that students should come first, period. The information gathered from research is useless if it cannot be disseminated and used by those who are trying to study it.
2) The segment was one-sided. Yep. Sure was. But it was the other side. For years we've been hearing the administration and its minions' side of things, its glowing opinion of itself, its severe lack of objectivity. Now that a side that is critical has finally come to light, and in such a public light, the administration is crying "foul." This is hypocrisy at its lowest. People who are essentially speaking out for the students are being told to be quiet. I find this unacceptable. The administration tries to base its merits on comparisons to other institutions, but that is an invalid method. The people to ask are those who try to employ UA graduates. Whether it's business, architecture, mathematics, etc., employers are just not impressed. People go here because they can afford it, not because the school has some Harvard-like reputation (which it doesn't).
This is not to say that there aren't quality professors teaching here, nor are all students receiving a second-rate education. Enough are, though, to make this a major problem on this campus. I tend to believe that if a professor's employment was contingent on student approval, a great deal would no longer be here. If students are seen as being unqualified to make that decision, it is because they have not been taught well enough, which proves my point.
3) Keith Lehrer is unhappy because he feels he was misrepresented. He also feels he was misled. A bit of street advice for you, Keith: if you don't want to look like a fool, don't act like one. Before the segment appeared, Minister of UA Propaganda Sharon Kha sent a memo to the Arizona Board of Regents, warning them of the "negative" tone. She also attached a copy of Lehrer's letter to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which she advised the regents to "use as they see fit." The letter itself is a bit of character assassination toward the entire staff of "60 Minutes," and comes off as a spoiled child, pompous and angry for being told that he couldn't play by his own rules. Lehrer couldn't dictate the tone of the interview and it pissed him off.
People think "60 Minutes" came here with its story in mind. No kidding! Would you attempt a paper, or a doctoral thesis, without having a preconceived idea in mind? Why should a journalist do it then? It would be amusing to find out just who these administrators and professors are trying to kid.
4) Michael Cusanovich feels the segment was not "representative of faculty and students as a whole" ("Did CBS dupe profs?" March 1). Like he would know. Administration has never been representative of the faculty or students, so I can't believe he is the one to now be able to make such an across-the-board statement like that and expect to be taken seriously.
Walking around campus with Cindy and Rome (the segment producers) last fall, both were amazed at how isolated the students here were from the administration/faculty. It was THAT apparent to two people who had never even stepped foot onto this campus before. To me, that is really sad. Now our beloved administration (again, who has never been objective in their presentations of themselves) is pondering its next move.
Want an idea? Get over yourselves. Start trying to improve the university instead of your own egos. There are plenty of us (students and decent professors) who are putting their asses on the line on a daily basis in order to improve the university as well as ourselves. We are sick of seeing the administration and its band of supplicating faculty (translate as ass-kissing) make the student body suffer due to poor decision-making and insufficient instruction. God help you if the students ever truly wake up.
Thomas E. Tolley
Student Assistant, CLAS 126
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