To the Editor:
Today was a sad day for both the University of Miami and the city of Miami as a whole. The Faculty Senate voted today to “disestablish the School of International Studies” and merge it into the College of Arts and Sciences. Although the administration and apparently the Faculty Senate believe this is a good step towards improving the study of international affairs, many students currently within the program are mourning the University’s apparent disregard for their opinion.
Today, a group of 50 – 75 students rallied and protested outside of the Faculty Senate meeting voicing their displeasure and distrust of an institution that would make a decision of such great magnitude without consulting the student body and most of the faculty affected. Our chants ranged from “Save SIS” to “Miami es ‘El Mundo'” and “Our Voice WILL be Heard!”
I personally feel that our trust has been violated on a number of ways. First off, President Shalala made a decision regarding our School without consulting any of the faculty or students involved. We were informed of the decision during a meeting in which she was not even present. Secondly, this decision de-legitimizes our program showing that the University is NOT really committed to international studies. Most of the students who decided to enroll in the University of Miami made their decision because of the School of International Studies. I, along with other students, only applied to institutions with Schools of International Studies, and I can guarantee you that the program will inevitably suffer in the future.
The loss of prestige and the eventual decline in the program’s effectiveness and renown is inescapable. I believe that less and less faculty and students will want to enroll in a university that only offers a department rather than a School of International Studies. By disestablishing the School, the University of Miami is symbolically showing it does not value international studies. The potential of the School of International Studies, because of its geographic location in an international hub such as Miami, is incredible. There is no reason that students should have to go to New York or Washington D.C. in order to attend a School of International Studies that specializes in Latin America, for example.
I am deeply saddened and concerned about the future of the program. I can only hope that President Shalala will realize that students both within the School of International Studies and the University as whole will not stand by and allow decisions to be made for them! We DO have a voice and will be heard. Thank you for your time.
Nuria L. Haltiwanger