Bernstine blinks during GPA stare-down

A letter from PSU President Daniel O. Bernstine to ASPSU President Mary Cunningham Monday confirmed that PSU student government has won an important battle in its effort to halt a change in GPA requirements.

A measure to change the incoming freshman minimum GPA requirement from 2.5 to 3.0 was passed by the faculty senate Feb. 4. Monday, due to pressure from student government officials, Bernstine asked the Oregon University Systems Board (OUS) to “defer action on PSU’s request.” The OUS was the last step in ratifying the change, which was to take effect fall term 2003. The decision will now be put on hold until all members of the PSU community can participate in the process.

In his letter, Bernstine claimed to be “committed to having the student voice be heard more clearly on this matter.” However, he also stated that he “supports the work that has been done on this issue and the final outcome to change our requirements.”

“This is a huge victory for the function of student government,” Cunningham said. “The president of the institution found there was an error in the process, and fixed it.”

The letter from Bernstine came in the wake of a meeting Friday, which included student leaders, Provost Mary Kay Tetreault, Vice-Provost Douglas Samuels and faculty senate presiding officer Scott Burns.

Tetreault was responsible for introducing the measure to the faculty senate, which passed the proposal on a 36-20 vote.

During the meeting she expressed regret at not having involved students in the decision earlier. “This was discussed with appropriate faculty groups,” she said. “If we could turn the clock back we would say, ‘Make sure to get the students at that faculty senate meeting.'”

An overwhelming majority of student leaders revealed at the meeting that had a 3.0 GPA been required when they applied to PSU, they would not have been admitted, including Cunningham.

However, Tetreault still defended the proposed change. “I think it should go forward,” she said.

In addition to Friday’s meeting, Cunningham wrote a letter to Bernstein dated Feb. 10, in which she encouraged President Bernstein to reconsider the decision.

“Although I have deep concerns about what this proposal means to PSU’s standing as an access university, I’m far more troubled by the lack of student involvement in the process that lead (sic) to this important decision,” she wrote.

Student leaders were outraged Wednesday to discover that the faculty senate had passed a measure increasing the minimum GPA requirement for incoming freshmen from 2.5 to 3.0. Members of student government accused the faculty senate and the administration of not including them in the process, and insisted that raising the GPA requirement would be detrimental to diversity and recruitment of minority students at PSU.

The proposal brought to the forefront issues of cooperation between student government and faculty. Student senator Dimitrius Desyllus referred to the decision making process during Friday’s meeting, saying “students need to be included and they haven’t been, not just in this decision but prior decisions.”

“This university does not belong to the faculty,” he continued.

Members of the faculty senate in turn accused student government officials of not being active in their jobs as representatives of the student body. Student government holds a non-voting position on the faculty senate, yet no student representative was in attendance at the meeting.

This was echoed in the letter Bernstine wrote to Cunningham. “Students have an appointment on the Academic Requirements Committee,” he wrote. “I understand that no student was in attendance at the meetings where this was discussed.”

“There is enough blame to go around for everyone,” student senator Shane Jordan said. “We should have attended those meetings.”

Student senators and members of the executive staff continued to assign blame, until Friday’s meeting brought them together to protest the faculty senate’s decision.

“I’ve learned that I need to work more with the senate,” Cunningham said. “We are all here for students, we need to realize we are on the same team.”

At Friday’s meeting, Tetreault invited more involvement and participation from student government in the decision making process.

“I would really welcome a chance to sit down with the student leadership from time to time,” she said. “This is my third year here and I think I’ve only met one time with student leaders,” she continued. “It’s important for me, being responsible for all academic programs, to know what you are thinking.”