Editorials, Opinion

WVU walkout a good start, but it will take more

On Monday, WVU students staged a walkout and protest in objection to the preliminary recommendations that call for cutting 32 majors and 169 faculty positions.

We are proud of all the people — especially the students — who showed up outside the Mountainlair and on the Rec Center fields. It takes courage to show up — in person, no less — to protest for something you believe in. And hundreds of students, staff, faculty and community members showed up. We admire the bravery, passion and dedication they demonstrated.

We fear, however, they’re efforts will be for naught.

We suspect WVU’s administration and Board of Governors have already made up their minds.

When programs were first announced for review, each department had the opportunity to plead its case via a self-study that it then turned in to the Provost’s Office. The preliminary recommendations we have all poured over were then released after the self-studies had been reviewed.

“Preliminary” seems like a misnomer; it’s likely that the recommendations are final, despite the appeals process that begins this week and will go until Sept. 5. According to the Academic Transformation timeline, final recommendations will go to the BOG on Sept. 11, then the BOG will hear public comments on Sept. 14 and vote on the final recommendations on Sept. 15.

Associate Provost Lou Slimak has warned departments with programs and faculty under the knife that, if they choose to appeal, they’ll need to rethink their strategies, since whatever they did during the review phase didn’t work. You can’t just defend the status quo, he said. Programs with faculty reductions will have to rethink their curriculum and how that curriculum is presented; or they will have to provide a detailed explanation for “why it’s not possible in any configuration, no matter what you do. Like, ‘We cannot make our curriculum work this way.’ ” Programs that have been slated for discontinuation will have to present “a different argument that is focused on a dramatic reduction in costs, a different way of delivering that curriculum, something we have not yet heard.”

If, as members of the WVU and Morgantown communities, you still want to fight to save programs and faculty positions, here’s what you can do.

Between now and Sept. 8, WVU faculty can submit written comments to be considered for review by the Board of Governors and/or sign up to speak at the Sept. 14 public comment hearing. We recommend students, alumni and community members do the same — write letters and plan to show up for the public comment hearing. You can reach the Office of the Provost at provost@mail.wvu.edu and the Office of the President at presidentsoffice@mail.wvu.edu. According to its website, the BOG can be reached by emailing Special Assistant to the Board of Governors Valerie Lopez at valerie.lopez@mail.wvu.edu.

We’re so proud of the people who showed up for Monday’s protest, but red shirts and clever signs will not be enough. Concerned individuals must reach out to the people in power to make sure their voices are heard.