Oregon State University administrators: Listen to your students, alumni

Barometer editorial board

Five letters to the editor later and here we are.

On Thursday, Feb. 18, The Daily Barometer published a news article on the suspension of the international degree program. Founded in 1992, this unique option allows any student to add an array of language learning and study abroad experiences to their major.

The core requirements for the program included an increase of credits in addition to their major, work towards proficiency in a foreign language and an undergraduate thesis project.

Oh, and students in the program get to study abroad, putting emphasis on the real world experiential learning application.

The degree program has now been suspended for reasons that remain unclear.

Mark Hoffman, vice provost of international programs, said there were several “concerns” that came to his office when he moved into the position.

“But times are different and students have changed and become more focused on different experiences than they were when the program was developed,” Hoffman said in the article.

The international degree option places people into new environments and helps them tackle new obstacles to better understand surroundings outside of their own homeland.

Nobody can deny that the best way to experience new cultures and perspectives is through first hand experience in foregn environments.

So we’re at the point when we have to ask: What happens next, OSU?

We’ve heard from those who care about the program and expect to hear from many more who wish to voice their own concerns on the program’s suspension.

We urge Hoffman, Provost Sabah Randhawa and President Ed Ray to listen to and respond to the concerns of your students, staff, faculty and alumni.

As of right now, the outcry against suspending what seems to be a clear benefit to the university and students involved speaks for itself.

Annette McFarland, who sent us a letter on Feb. 25, wanted to tell us how the international degree program helped compliment her education in English and French. She even had the opportunity to teach English to primary students in France for a year thanks to the program.

Jack Van de Water, dean emeritus, touched on an increased student interest and success of those who have entered the program in his Feb. 22 letter.

Dianne Hart, a senior instructor of Spanish, said “OSU administrators seem to have confused the increase of numbers of students from foreign countries with the internationalization of interested students’ curriculum,” in her Feb. 23 letter.

We understand that the administration must make several tough calls when it comes to keeping with the times, but to suspend the international degree—people clearly care about this program and succeed within—seems unwarranted.

And what are these changed conditions in the eyes of students that Hoffman is referring to anyhow? Yes, we agree that times and conditions are changing, making success in a diverse, global economy more important than ever before.

Why, in the wake of this growth in global involvement, would we cut a program that enables globally focused education?

We hear so much rhetoric on the expansion of a safe, inclusive and diverse environment at OSU. Cutting such a program does not help promote this message.

Administrators: Answer the call and make sure this degree program sticks around.

The premise of a certificate sounds like a solid plan, but the experience just wouldn’t be comparable enough to the hands on experience of the ID program to constitute its replacement.

There has to be a way to address any valid concerns against the program and look for ways to properly improve it.

Otherwise, we’re hearing the same old stuff: “diversity this and diversity that” as we see another valuable program up for death row.

Let’s keep this one around.

Editorials serve as a means for Barometer editors to offer commentary and opinions on issues both global and local, grand in scale or diminutive. The views expressed here are a reflection of the editorial board’s majority.

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