Presidential endorsement, enhanced campus security and the formation of bachelor’s degree-only universities were only a few of the issues discussed during the 16th session of the 36th Student Senate on Jan. 22.
During the community forum portion of the session agenda, Student Body Vice President Monique Gillum raised the topic of a potential plan by the Board of Governors to create bachelor’s degree-only institutions from 11 Florida universities. The plan, as formulated by a consultant, suggests inventing such establishments from pre-existing universities as well as private and community colleges.
This privately funded proposal comes as a result of Florida’s below average ranking of adults with four-year degrees and all but promises to limit the number of research universities endorsed by the state.
FAMU, which is comprised of 87 percent undergrads according to the Florida Board of Governors Web site, would be a choice candidate for a transformation into such an establishment – especially considering the university was a target of the same issue in 1998.
At that time, then Chancellor Adam Herbert made efforts to limit FAMU to being the lowest tier of a three-tier system. Resumption of the program would once again force the University to protect against becoming a mere bachelor’s degree-issuing body.
The problem however lies with the notion of basing state funding upon university graduation rates, given FAMU’s graduation rate of 43 percent, according to http://www.flbog.org.
Undoubtedly, the plan’s institution would be disastrous for areas of study such as pharmacy and other schools that require more than a bachelor’s degree. If approved, the plan would not be executed until 2030, but the issue still stirs concern within many students.
“That makes me nervous for the future of the University,” Gillum said. “I’m afraid that the same situation will come back around,” she continued. “Ten years ago, it was something that was thought of and the University was able to do away with it, but I wonder if it’ll be able to do the same now.”
The tentative plan has alarmed some students so much, they are considering taking action.
Sen. Anthony Ware, a fifth-year pharmacy student from Temple Hills, Md., said, “I spoke with students from the College of Pharmacy and informed them that they needed to sit down and decide what we want to do as far as mobilize the students to attack this situation and present a unified front in going about adjusting to this problem.”
Another focus of the Senate meeting was the upcoming selection of the University’s next president, slated to take place sometime after Feb. 1.
Sens. Anthony Murphy and William Miller issued an address in support of James Ammons, one of the three remaining presidential finalists.
This action lent itself to controversy regarding the Senate members’ selective support of a presidential candidate.
“The sentiment I got was that the Senate wants to take a stance to voice the student’s opinions,” said Senate President Ebony Manchion, 22, a senior business administration student from Fort Lauderdale.
Ware said it would be a “great disservice” if a permanent president were selected without the voice of the student Senate.
Other senators said students should be urged to independently research the presidential candidates and form their own conclusions rather than having other people do it for them.
The concern initially arose from when the National Alumni Association chose to endorse a presidential candidate of its own.
The association has since faced criticism for supporting a particular candidate while dismissing the others.
In response, many Senate members proposed an official means of raising awareness about the candidates amongst students.