Opinion

INS scam: inter-office politics over international politics

The abolition of the Department of International Studies [INS] is a sham.

If Dean Wyche approves the new proposal penned by the INS student-faculty transition team, a virtually identical program of international study will be implemented at UM. Absolutely zero will have been gained after the degrees of faithful INS graduate and undergraduate students have been devalued, the reputation of the Arts and Sciences department scarred and the teachers of INS surrounded by controversy. The ordeal will have done nothing more than discredit the University of Miami and disenfranchise the tuition-paying students who blindly signed on to the INS bandwagon.

The transition team would not have sent the proposal to the Dean unless they had reasonable grounds to believe that it would be approved. So the question remains as to why Wyche is looking to simply replace the curriculum he so clumsily canned at the beginning of the semester.

The answer to the question comes from the fact that the original INS catastrophe is entirely the product of inter-office politics and petulant professors. Tenure issues, clashing personalities, and poor administrative decisions led to the ordeal. So a perfectly fine department is killed, the credibility of UM’s College of Arts and Sciences is irrevocably damaged and unassuming students are shortchanged out of a reputable degree because our administration falls woefully short in its office management abilities.

Wyche, Shalala and the rest of the administration should have taken responsibility for the situation two years ago when the School of International Studies was shut down. Restructuring in the department – which is all the new proposal does – should have taken place through methods that would not affect the academic integrity of the College.

Now my fellow INS scholars and I are left to choose between the new program that is formulated through the transition team or the old INS curriculum that we originally signed up for. Neither degree is credible, in my opinion, and I’m thinking about dropping my international relations aspirations altogether. If UM’s inter-office politics are more important than the actual international politics in a department of international study, I can’t see how I’ll end up with an even halfway decent education.

Jillian Bandes can be contacted at j.bandes@umiami.edu.

April 2, 2004

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