At Brooklyn College, the faculty has quite a bit of power over us students. As the Brooklyn College Governance Plan Article II(A) states, the faculty is “responsible for the formulation of policy relating to the admission and retention of students, including health and scholarship standards; student attendance, including leaves of absence; curriculum; awarding of college credit; granting of degrees.” Whether it is about deciding on a curriculum change or contesting a student’s application for graduation, the faculty has its own legislative body known as the Faculty Council much like how students have student government.
Student representation is valuable and although students do have positions on Faculty Council committees, it is not enough. Student government is asked to fill these positions until the tail end of August even though the committees are formed in May with faculty representatives. This means that committees that choose to meet over the summer are guaranteed to lack student representation. I sit on the Committee on Undergraduate Degree Curriculum and Requirements and review proposed curriculum changes submitted by each department. After the committee meets, a recommendation is given at the monthly Faculty Council meeting in the form of a report. Though the chair of my committee has, chairs are not obligated to voice the specific concerns of student representatives to the Council. Given the impact of action taken at Faculty Council, students should have the ability to speak on the record at the regular meetings. But, students cannot speak at the regular meetings because only voting members can be recognized by the chair of Faculty Council. Student representatives do not have voting rights. We want this to change.
Allowing students a vote and a voice within Faculty Council would enable us to inform the educational policies determined by Faculty Council, would foster a direct line of communication between faculty and students by defining a space where students can bring up concerns to the body that has the power to make concrete changes, and would ensure that students can speak for themselves. The procedures of the college should encourage a spirit of relationship, trust, and community. When it comes to representation, we want a seat at the table with the same rights given to Faculty Council members.
Chava Shulman is a student representative on the Committee on Undergraduate Degree Curriculum and Requirements of Faculty Council and Deputy Chair of Budget & Finance Committee of CLAS Student Government.