Letter to the Editor: Students Deserve a Say in the New Discovery Program

Dear Faculty Members of UNH,

The Faculty Senate of the University of New Hampshire has recently been debating both the creation of the 2023 ad hoc Committee on Discovery and its membership. While the ad hoc Committee was officially created on March 6, 2023, the Faculty Senate has continued to debate the membership of the committee at their past two meetings on March 27, 2023 and April 10, 2023.

The original committee membership included six faculty members, two student members, and one member of the University Administration. At these past two meetings, many faculty members expressed their frustrations with the committee makeup and motioned to increase faculty membership to two members from each college (PCBE, CEPS, CHHS, COLSA, COLA, and CPS) and one from the Dimond Library faculty. The primary rationale behind this increase was to reach a broader perspective from all colleges and have more “boots on the ground” for the committee to collect feedback.

For similar reasons, members of the Student Senate have asked the Faculty Senate to increase the student membership on the committee to allow for broader student representation from all colleges. The current makeup allows just 2 students to be the voice of 11,000, whereas there are 13 faculty members to represent 2,000. The response to this request was incredibly shocking. Several Faculty Senators opposed this request for several irrational reasons including but not limited to the following:

  1. Students do not have the ability to think critically enough to make decisions about the curriculum;
  2. Faculty Senate is the primary body in charge of creating curriculum;
  3. Students do not have any expertise or degrees to be knowledgeable on curriculum and make decisions regarding it;
  4. Students will usurp Faculty Senate’s power and sway the majority vote in the committee;

We as members of the Student Senate are saddened and deeply concerned by this response. Our goal as student leaders is to work collaboratively with both the Faculty Senate and the UNH Administration to develop a new and more innovative Discovery curriculum. We have no desire or need to undermine the authority of the Faculty Senate. However, the Discovery Program is designed to broaden and enrich the knowledge of all UNH students. Thus, students must have a representative voice in this process. We believe that every student has different lived experiences with the Discovery Program and more student voices would enhance the Committee’s work.

The claims made within the Faculty Senate are not shared amongst all faculty members at UNH. We have faith that a majority of our faculty members respect and encourage student input regarding the Discovery Program. We ask you to speak up in support of your students and their educational success.

Thank you,

Emily Dennison, Student Body President

Dina Rathke, Student Body Vice President

Christian Zepeda-Lipovsky, Academic Affairs Chair