Tidal Wave II

Viewpoint: Make the student experience top priority when managing growth

By Ally McNally, ASUC Vice President
Posted 26 Jan 2000

As a senior at Cal and as the Associated Students of the University of California vice president of academic affairs, I recognize that students have a lot at stake when faced with issues of growth for the UC system.

Many students already feel like mere numbers on their student identification cards, disconnected from the intellectual community of the campus. Expansion of the Berkeley campus to accommodate the influx of 4,000 students from now though 2010 will impact the sense of an intellectual community on campus and will threaten the quality of students' education, if careful planning is not undertaken.

When I claim that growth will negatively affect students' education if we do not actively address community issues, I am assuming that participation in the rigorous academic and social community of this campus dramatically enhances classroom learning, as well as intellectual and personal development. So, in order to preserve the quality of our undergraduate education in light of growth, Berkeley must strengthen the connection between students and faculty by creating opportunities for faculty to student mentorship and scholarly research, strengthening and expanding the academic advising services, and maintaining smaller classroom sizes.

In terms of the physical planning, Berkeley must create a strong student center to maintain a sense of cohesion between members of the student body and to provide opportunities for students of different academic and social backgrounds to meet, discuss and get access to campus information. If Berkeley were to construct satellite campuses in surrounding communities, students involved in such programs would still need a place on the central campus to interact with other students and to feel connected to the central university. In addition, Berkeley must consolidate the bureaucracy and should renegotiate its student services given the advances on the Internet in regards to access of information and Web-based services.

Increased enrollments may provide Berkeley with an opportunity to think creatively about how it operates and uses its facilities and resources. However, I propose that unless we prioritize intellectual community, issues such as growth will make this university even more impersonal and will threaten the quality of a Berkeley education.

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