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Regional students wary of changes

Students respond to upcoming vote

By Megan Zahneis, For The Miami Student

With University Senate's vote on regional campus restructuring fast approaching, the students affected are still leery of change.

Senate is scheduled to begin voting on restructuring issues Monday afternoon, with its Nov. 30 session earmarked to wrap up the process.

If passed, the legislation would rename and reorganize many academic departments on the regional campuses in order to house new bachelor's degree programs.

The proposed new departmental structure has drawn the ire of some faculty, who feel that they haven't been given a fair say in the process.

But how do the students themselves feel?

Senior Joe Crain has taken a number of classes at Miami's Hamilton campus. He finds the attempt at differentiation between the Oxford and regional campuses "disturbing."

"I really find this lack of communication with the faculty that's going on really detrimental to the entire process, and I'm just not really sure why Oxford feels the need to be doing this," Crain said. "I think the idea itself is good. But I also think that that's another way for Oxford to try to distance themselves from the regionals."

Junior Joe Imholte supports the effort to offer more baccalaureate degrees, but agreed that lack of faculty input was a deal breaker.

"It just seems like it would lead to the regional campus student not really getting what they deserve," Imholte said.

Calvin Gibson said the lack of proper communication between administration and regional students, which has been comprised mainly of mass emails full of technical jargon, seems to be the underlying issue.

"[Students] don't actually understand what's happening with [the restructuring plan] because [administrators] don't give you the full picture in the mass email type thing unless you go digging around for information," Gibson said. "Just the fact that they're leaving it out intentionally, withholding information, [means] we can't get a full picture and can't form an actual informed opinion."

Imholte doesn't hear much talk on campus about the proposed changes.

"It doesn't seem like a lot of people know what's going on, considering I don't hear conversations about it," he said.

Crain said while Miami Hamilton's Associated Student Government has done its part to educate students on the proposed changes, the larger issue revolves around lack of feedback.

"It's Oxford doing it all while the regionals are just kind of forgotten about. It's like their opinion is not really important," Crain said. "I just don't like that at all."

"If you don't really know about a problem, how can you address it? I'm not saying Oxford's intentionally trying to leave [regionals] out, but I think they have left them out. I don't really think that they've had a fair chance to stand up and speak their piece."

Imholte said that he'd welcome more four-year degrees.

"I think any extra degree being offered can only be a positive for the student," Imholte said. "I was thinking about getting my associates', being done for a little bit and maybe coming back for a four-year degree. But if they offer something for four-year that's attractive to me, I'll stick around, no problem."

He pointed out that Oxford students who take courses on regional campuses often do so for the benefit of increased classroom engagement.

"That's something we at the regional level provide is we're not monotonous, we're not all the same person sitting there twiddling our thumbs," Imholte said.

Yet all three attested to the stigma that seems to surround the regional campuses as the larger problem at play.

"I do go up to Oxford sometimes, and when I see students there I get the overall feeling that they're looking down on me for being from a regional campus," Gibson said. "That's not a very nice feeling. Instead of unifying the campuses, they're dividing the campuses even more."

Crain said the perception of regional campus degrees as less valuable than ones earned on the Oxford campus comes from the administration.

"I think Oxford has kind of pushed toward that direction," Crain said. "I blame Oxford for that; I think it's their fault that people view it that way and they want to make those changes. To me, the whole thing is just completely unnecessary."