Questions asked, little answered

By By Anne Baker, News Staff

In what was frequently a contentious meeting, the ad-hoc committee charged with examining the structure of the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Criminal Justice hosted its second open forum Tuesday afternoon.
The meeting, which was described by a student as taking a ‘harsh’ tone, was primarily focused on transparency.
‘We’re consumers, everyone here, of a $150,000 product,’ one student said during the meeting. ‘As a consumer of this product, I’m really disappointed that there’s no transparency here.’
About 30 students attended the meeting, which was geared toward criminal justice majors and held in the Alumni Center. While the first, sparsely attended forum meeting had the present committee members speaking freely with the two graduate students there, asking and answering questions, Tuesday’s meeting had a different tone. The purpose of the College of Criminal Justice meeting was to simply hear feedback from students, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and chair of the committee Mary Loeffelholz told them.
‘We’re here to hear more from you than you are from me,’ she said in response to a student who asked if the four committee members there would be answering any questions.
After the room erupted in chatter and one student got up to leave, committee members said they would answer basic questions about the charge of the committee and what it would be doing.
The issue of transparency dominated the meeting, with many students saying they had little idea what was happening with the committee or its charge. Some also called for publication of the specific facts and figures that the committee is basing its report on.
‘It’s just a very blind process,’ one student said. ‘You want our concerns, but how can we have any if we don’t know what’s going on?’
Other students said they felt the decision had already been made and would include moving the College of Criminal Justice into another college. Committee member Carey Rappaport denied any suggestion that the decision had already been made, and said he ‘had to believe’ the input was taken seriously.
He added that he had faith in the university system, to which many students groaned and shook their heads.
Students also expressed concern about a range of issues, including the future of their advising, the future of research funding and how the prestige of the criminal justice program would be affected, should it become part of a reformed version of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Many also stated that the prestige of having criminal justice be its own college was part of the reason they picked Northeastern, adding that their parents have expressed concerns about changing the college.
After the meeting, Christina Brennan, a freshman criminal justice major, said she would transfer out of Northeastern if the criminal justice program was changed from being a college, and called the meeting ‘pointless.’
‘It just seems like they’ve already made up their minds and they’re not telling us what other things they’re looking at,’ she said.
During the forum, students also asked about how the issue was being handled with prospective students, and whether they were being informed of the possible restructure. Loeffelholz did not directly address the question, but after the meeting, Rappaport said it would be hard for the committee to inform prospective students when no decision has yet been reached.
‘We’re still gathering information,’ he said. ‘There’s certainly the possibility that nothing will change.’
Though Loeffelholz declined to comment after the meeting, Rappaport said he was pleased with how it went.
‘The most important thing is to have input,’ he said. ‘To have students crawling all over themselves raising their hands to give comment is great.’
However, freshman criminal justice major Chris Pennisi said he was less than thrilled with the meeting.
‘I feel like we’re still in the dark,’ he said. ‘We really don’t know much more than when we came. I’m still left with the impression that they have already made up their minds.’

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