An open forum about the future of the comic book class was held in the Catherine Evans McGowan room on Monday, Nov 4.
It was presented by Dr. David Rehm, vice president of academic affairs, and Dr. Heidi Manning, dean of arts and sciences. An accumulation of more than 20 Misericordia students, faculty, and staff was present with questions and concerns regarding the forthcomings of the class, which is formally called “Race and Graphic Narrative in the Post War United States”.
“We want to know what we can do to help this process of getting the class reregistered and re-rostered,” stated Juliana Cofrancesco, an English and secondary education senior.
The decision to have the open forum was brought upon by an anonymous petition that had a total of 114 signatures of students and alumni. They expressed signs of anger and frustration towards the cancelation of the class, according to Cofrancesco.
Rehm explained to the audience that there are issues with the changed class loading documents and that professor “team-teaching” does not equivalate the same workload as a course taught by one professor.
“Every professor has to have a sufficient amount of work with a level playing field,” said Rehm.
Rehm went on to say that the ten-year span of the course does not give it historical precedence over the loading document policy.
“The policy has to be effective and consistent. This is an issue of principle and not one singular college,” he said.
Junior English and secondary education student, Leah Brown was left disappointed about the points addressed and with more questions than she came into the meeting with.
Brown wanted to know more about the “behind the scenes” work and what the thought processing was that goes into making these decisions.
“I don’t know how we measure loading documents and I don’t know we compare team teaching vs. individual teaching,” Brown said.
She went on to say that students at Misericordia take their education seriously and that they should not be “left in the dark” when it comes to decisions affecting the education that they pay for.
Brown learned about the comic book class while she was doing her first tour at the university when she was told about how unique it was compared to other classes. She said it represented the liberal arts part of the university.
“That is what a liberal arts education is all about, that is why I came here. There was nothing similar content-wise that was offered in other schools,” she said.
Cofrancesco said she feels the same way that Brown does and believes that it is time for students everywhere to take a stand on this class and their education.
Cofrancesco, who took the class that was both taught by Dr. Patrick Hamilton, associate professor of English, and Dr. Allen Austin, associate professor of history, said that she was blessed to have had such a unique learning experience with material that one would never think is so symbolic.
“History isn’t just facts and literacy isn’t just the plot. You never know what you may find in the visual element of these things,” she said.
She brought up the idea of having a student panel that would discuss the topics and themes revealed in the 432W/English 361W class. She mentioned that it might bring perspective English students to Misericordia. “
“I would like to see more English majors, as we are a smaller department than others,” Cofrancesco said.
Talks also about a student union have come up across the English department, with some English majors stating that they feel “lost in the shuffle” and that it is “harder to get things accomplished within our department.”
Hamilton said that although he does not have a lot of experience with student unions, he does not want to get in the way of any student that wants to be involved.
Hamilton, who routinely speaks with many of the English students, stated that he is surprised to hear that the students feel like “second-class citizens and disciples.” He said he is very hopeful that the students can make the change they want and should be actively engaged in bettering their education.
“Students at this or any institution, I don’t think they realize the power that they have to try to change things,” he said.
He went on to say that a student does not need their professors’ permission to take a stand and fight for what they believe in.
Students were told by Rehm that there is to be a discussion between himself, Manning and other faculty members who deal with academic affairs about the loading document and how the class can fit in the curriculum for the future. They were encouraged to email Rehm toward the end of November to see if any progress had been made.
Brown said she believes while the meeting was helpful, there is still more work to be done.
“The meeting is the step in the right direction, but not the solving resolution,” said Brown.