The elimination of the Department of International Studies [INS] is an outrage, especially at a school ranked ninth in the country by The Princeton Review for “most diverse student body.” Dean Wyche of the College of Arts & Sciences, under the auspices of President Shalala, has single-handedly killed the major that over 150 students currently pursue at UM.
In fact, not only does the major have “above average popularity” with respect to undergraduate majors according to an international studies advisor, but it has a strong nucleus of students who are intensely devoted to the field. This nucleus consists of not only undergraduates, but a thriving group of graduate students who do research on a host of pioneering topics such as the European Union and foreign relations in the Americas.
If that’s not enough, International Studies professors are involved with groundbreaking work on America’s foreign policy, providing counsel to several presidents and publishing a multitude of material to the University’s credit.
Reasons for abolishing the program were vague and seemingly inconsequential. Wyche told the handful of students at the preliminary announcement that the program is “substandard” and that since it was not ranked, it would not be practical to continue funding of department.
Tell that to the students who major in it. These devoted scholars have independently organized meetings against the decision and are launching an all-out attack. The first general protest meeting had so many attendees that it bordered on an illegal gathering; the issue was so urgent that there was no time to get official approval from the University.
This should send a strong message to Wyche. If he follows through with his choice, he will fail the hundreds of undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, professors and personnel who have devoted time, energy and significant amounts of tuition money to the college. Wyche will fail the students who specifically came to this University for international studies, and the countless numbers of others whose degrees will lose untold value as a result of his decision. He will affect the quality of incoming classes because the University now has one less major to offer top-notch students.
Since Wyche says he can no longer support the Department of International Studies, does this mean he no longer supports the dreams of professors and students who use the diversity and vivacity of Miami to their scholastic advantage? Miami is, after all, the gateway to South America and to the rest of the world, and the University is poised to take advantage of its location through its quality international program.
Wyche’s plan for a “global studies curriculum” is a poor replacement for an established INS program that already has so much support. The only question left is whether he will have the courage to re-examine his decision and listen to the students and teachers who are screaming at him.