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Honors College Reform Stirs Trouble
In the summer of 2013, the UAB Honors College students voiced against the replacement of a general honors college. After President Watts intervened and clarified some issues, most students resumed back to their daily lives. Over finals week, the Student Executive Council (SEC) held a meeting to discuss a new issue in the honors college reform.
Julio Rivera, Interim Director, found that SEC did not meet up to standards. Rivera requested a change for how students were elected. Currently, each program has only three members that can be selected for the council. Rivera wants the option to allow anyone who has the qualification to join can be inducted and move away from “program identity.”
“I feel like there is a lack of student voice in this reconstruction. There’s nothing wrong with having loyalties and being proud to be in our specific program, while still caring for the general program. I hope that we can bond together and show the administration that we do have camaraderie like we did in the summer,” said Amanda Viikinsalo, sophomore in the University Honors Program.
Many students felt that such a program that Rivera suggested would remove the equality and community that SEC stems from.
“We all know those people who selected because they are popular, then end up not doing anything. In my opinion, a popularity contest is not the way to go. I do like everyone getting the opportunity to join, but then let the current council select the new members,” said Dhruv Patel, Senior at Science and Technology Honors Program.
SEC Science and Technology Representative Zachariah Ingram proposed that students have a “statement of intent” to ensure that only the best people are selected from Rivera’s broad policy.
The SEC meeting was to understand the student’s perspective of how they should change in order to meet both Rivera’s standards and each students needs. There has not been any changes made, but there is a retreat to write an entirely new constitution in February to restructure SEC to form “a broader Honors College Dynamic.”
“We had this meeting to inform the new development of student representation. We felt it was our duty to share this and hear their opinions. Obviously we discussed elections and structure – that was our biggest concerns. SEC has been around for two years moderating amongst the honors college and admin[istration]. We just wanted to hear from students how they felt about the procedure and what came out was that students want us to continue to advocate for them,” said Ashleigh Staples, junior in the University Honors Program.
Currently, the mission of SEC is to relay the honors college students’ concern to the administration, facilitate thoughts of those individuals, and promote camaraderie between honors programs. They have met with different faculty members, including Dean Palazzo, to ensure that the student prospective was heard.
“The student body that is supposed to represent the honors college, specifically the individual honors programs, is not being allowed the chance to do so in the way students would wants. Something definitely needs to change,” said Sierra Thurman, sophomore Global Community Leaders Honors Program.
If students would like to get involved, there is a petition on Facebook “UAB Honors College Student Leadership” to preserve the SEC and individual program representation. Please refrain from emailing President Watts as he is not directly related to this issue.