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Commentary Relays Edition

Enrollment will suffer amid Drake’s probable program cuts 

A graphic depicting votes to cut programs Faculty Senate voted to eliminate the three programs in red and not eliminate the six programs in blue during the April 17 vote. Graphic by Veronica Meiss | Web Editor

In the past few weeks at Drake University, many students have begun to question just how reliable the people in power at our University are. Just days after Provost Sue Mattison apologized for announcing the anthropology/sociology major’s possible removal, it was shown that she’d looked at the wrong data set. 

I’ve begun to question how someone can mess up their job in such a way that could cost us more than just enrollment.  

Four undergraduate majors — astronomy, physics, religion and rhetoric — are on the chopping block at Drake, along with minors in rhetoric and East Asian studies. The one I hear the most people talk about is anthropology/sociology. 

When I think about the fact that that major was announced to be possibly removed in a University-wide email a few weeks back, I wonder how they could have even made a mistake, and then post about said mistake, without double checking their numbers first. Even though both data sheets were said to be labeled the same, there shouldn’t be mistakes like that made in administration positions. To look at an entirely wrong data set on an entire major and announce it might possibly be cut not only makes current students want to transfer but also might decrease next year’s enrollment.

In Drake’s case, there are six majors being recommended for elimination as early as fall 2024, and in a recent email, Drake students realized that some of the information was wrong for which majors would be recommended for removal. 

It’s extremely unprofessional to cut courses with no student say in the matter, but what was even more unprofessional was Sue Mattison’s email that the information reviewed on a major was actually false and that the anthropology/sociology major would no longer be on the chopping block.* 

The higher-ups may think that this email was a save to keep students from leaving, but in reality, any student considering Drake could have changed their mind. 

Due to the unknown future state of the majors, prospective students and current Bulldogs alike are feeling the pressure of the potential cuts. For new students entering the Drake family, it goes to show just how much of a mess the University sits in at this moment compared to what we advertise. 

We as a University have been struggling with money issues due to low enrollment for the past few years. Removing majors and minors in different sections of the University is an ill attempt by the University to make some money back. 

In my professional opinion, instead of cutting majors and programs, we should focus more on where the funding that our donors are sending us is actually going and making sure it goes to a good use. We need to recognize that most of the University’s money is being put to irrelevant uses, leaving the people in charge to make decisions that go far past cutting majors.  

A financially stable and healthy university should not have to cut majors and close dorm buildings in an effort to save money, while also combating their lack of enrollment due to halfhearted university advertisements and issues that anyone could figure out by talking to a current Drake student. 

I would also like to highlight how when I emailed Sue about the matter, she sent back a passive aggressive email that seemed to belittle me and my opinions on the topic. I get that we can’t make everyone happy, but you don’t belittle someone for their opinions when you literally have faculty members who might lose their position. 

Drake is proving email after email that the University is struggling to keep up with all its students’ needs. After your first week on campus, the issues with topics like our WiFi, buildings, unrealistically busy schedules and now not having enough students to fill classrooms have become evident around every corner of campus. I personally don’t even know how the school managed to hide these issues for as long as they did from prospective students. 

Like I said before, when you have staff that don’t feel welcomed at work and a mix of students being angry that their voices are being muted, the higher ups must know that the fate of the University won’t be a positive topic. If you work with students who are adults and employ educated adults, there has to be an understanding that you treat everyone like adults and you respect people’s voices. I don’t care how stressful your job is; you don’t treat the people keeping your university running like they are just a number. If students and faculty wanted to be treated like just another person, we would have picked a larger institution. 

Overall, the University should not be resorting to cutting student interests. Drake’s decisions just keep making the University look even worse. The people in power should start focusing more on student interests in resources, sports, clubs and outside program funding so that instead of losing students, the University might influence students to actually want to still attend after their first semester — like one of the religion majors I know who doesn’t know what she is going to do if the major is cut. 

A university can’t thrive without students, and when you don’t help your students with their interests outside of what the donors see, you won’t end up with much of a university at all. With Drake’s attitude right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if the University loses more students and faculty to executive ignorance and stupidity. 

Editor’s note: Faculty Senate representatives held two student town halls on March 28 and April 15, in which students could express their views on the recommended program cuts. Students’ opinions were written down in a document that faculty senators could view before the program elimination vote on April 17.

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