‘Low completer’ academic slaves?

I met an Egyptian medical doctor while in South Carolina for the HBCU student media conference last weekend.

She talked about the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak and her experience as a religious minority (Christian). She also divulged details about Egypt’s education system. She talked about Egypt’s culture of literacy, exposure and high expectation. Our conversation inspired me; but, it also reminded me of academic Wal-Mart-ization in the United States.

While the nation grapples with deficits and education issues differently, Louisiana has the game all messed up. GSU currently has 31 at-risk programs because of the state’s low completer review.

The review isolated programs that supposedly have poor graduation rates and make debatable contributions to the state.

Some at-risk GSU programs include English, computer science and foreign languages. Although I major in none of the above, I am outraged.

After President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address called for technological advancements and promising educations, policy makers continue to pressure higher education allies.

Review standards were adjusted from five years to three years for undergraduate degrees. The process appears to be an assault on our right to be informed people.

While proposed cuts can affect the entire state and its multi-hued learners, Black Americans are all too familiar with the implications of not receiving the necessary education.

If we do not learn, we cannot live. Under-education can equal unemployment.

Without undergraduate English or computer science programs, we must want outsourced jobs and decreasing qualities of life.

We must want to be international laughingstocks, who only speak English and don’t do that well. We must want to keep the prison industrial complex.

While I acknowledge that low numbers can indicate departmental productivity issues and student failure, I cannot pretend that pie charts tell the entire story.

Iffy numbers do not mean worthless classrooms. Additionally, it absolves us of social responsibility to repeat diatribes about student apathy and academic disengagement.

I won’t front like we are perfect. We have some intellectual bums and some slumlord professors.

But, in personal experience and in the experience of countless comrades, we have some of the most patient professors whose concern exceeds their pay and whose faith moves barriers that some students come to college internalizing.

Sometimes an interpersonal connection must be cultivated before students maximize learning.

Frankly, some majors keep oldheads because the classes have lower numbers and take longer to complete.

We serve diverse students, many who attended junior colleges, transferred, have children and/or otherwise fit into non-traditional categories.

Sometimes we cannot record those people’s stories under ever-evolving and normative academic standards.

It is not all the state’s fault though. Sometimes we do ourselves in.

The university offers some vital courses less frequently, which compromises graduation and retention rates, on top of frustrating students.

Some departments are not as guilty of under-serving students as they are of poorly documenting student success.

We must remember that college students’ educations occur in, around and outside of the classroom. We do not have to major in a program to understand its validity for others.

Interdisciplinary experiences contribute to our academic diversity. Having different gifts and areas of interest are healthy expectations.

I have proofread letters for peers and asked my number-loving homies for help with trigonometry assignments.

The low completer review is a reminder that when budgets shrink many advocates of slicing higher education already smooth satin pillowcases before their American dreams.

I ain’t saying they some dream killers; but, they ain’t compromising some other figures .
GSU must get and keep our house in order and comply with the state’s requests to justify the need for our programs.

Students must understand that just because their program is not currently under scrutiny, it does not mean that their university and degree cannot be compromised.

Recruitment and retention are everyone’s job. Without students to serve, programs will disappear and so will our legacy.

Editor-in-chief Imani Jackson is a senior mass communication major from Jacksonville, Fla.