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Physics Department Disregards Students

Column by Rob Wagner
Staff Reporter

As part of re-engineering, the Department of Physics recently decided "to consolidate the undergraduate and graduate physics offices into one office under the direction of an educational coordinator," according to acting Department Head Jerome I. Friedman. Because of seniority, the current graduate administrator will assume the position of educational coordinator, and the current undergraduate administrator, Isabel Cunha-Vasconcelos, will be leaving her position.

Now it bothers me that we'll be losing Isabel. During my years here, she has been unbelievably caring and helpful to me and to a number of other students. We will truly miss her presence in the physics office.

But what really bothers me is that the decision to make this consolidation was made in secret. Those responsible for this decision consulted neither faculty members nor students. And because the decision was secret, nobody could offer input. Thus the needs, concerns, and welfare of the department's faculty and students were completely ignored. Those responsible for this decision are insidious. They thought only of the bottom line in this case. They thought they could affect, and possibly harm, people's lives here without their either noticing or caring.

I view those responsible for this decision with great contempt. I would like it known that this kind of flagrant abuse of students and manipulation of their academic lives is a disgrace to the Institute.

The enactment of this decision comes on the heels of U.S. News and World Report's annual ranking, which found the graduate physics program tops in the nation. If the department has absolutely no regard for its undergraduates, or even its faculty, as is indicated by this decision process and the way it ignored student and faculty concerns, then this ranking is completely worthless, as is the department itself.