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The UCSB Academic Senate is currently deciding whether or not the College of Creative Studies will be accepting applicants for the CCS Literature program for Fall 2014, as the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor recently requested a temporary hold on the program’s admissions.
University officials have said that no other students in the CCS Literature program will be affected and if there is a hold on admissions, it would only be in place for the coming school year. The Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor requested an admissions hold following a program review that took place last year, which included an onsite evaluation of the program, recommendations and commentary by special review committees, and meetings with administrators, faculty, deans and students. Executive Director of the Academic Senate Deborah Karoff said the Academic Senate will take “several weeks” to decide if the university will admit Fall 2014 applicants for the CCS Literature major, but now several CCS alumni are sending letters in support of the program to the Academic Senate and CCS Dean Bruce Tiffney is asking current students to meet with program administrators to discuss improving the major.
In an email sent out to CCS Literature students at the start of this quarter, Tiffney said students were invited to meet with him to discuss how to improve the program. Tiffney said he and the new Literature assistant, Shannon Meyer — a graduate student in the English Department — would organize “a series of meetings with interested CCS Literature students in groups of approximately 10 individuals” to discuss ideas and observations about improving it.
Tayler Heuston, a CCS Lit alum who underwent the program review completed last year, said the review happened at a time when a small number of students were expressing a sense of dissatisfaction with the major that was shared by some administrators.
“Ultimately, everybody wanted more classes, more course offerings. That was kind of the thing that we all really wanted,” Heuston said. “But some students pushed it further, saying that the major doesn’t do enough, it doesn’t prepare us enough and that we need more things similar to what the English Department does.”
However, Heuston said that as a current graduate student, the CCS Literature program has helped her with skills such as “discernment, clarity, expression and originality,” all of which she said have been useful in her post-graduate endeavors.
“All those skills that I did develop at the program are the ones I’m using, and the ones that matter the most in my career beyond CCS,” Heuston said.
While admitting that some administrators and even students have said that the CCS Literature program is not necessarily “progressive enough, in terms of research and criticism,” Heuston said such critics are “speaking from a place of ignorance” or “prejudice against canon studies.”
However, the Literature Department is now responding to the concerns of the Executive Vice Chancellor with serious action, according to Tiffney.
“In terms of negotiations, we have been and are working with colleagues across campus to seek the support and involvement of an even stronger Literature Program, addressing the EVC’s concerns,” Tiffney said in an email.
Tiffney also said that while there has been a great wave of support from CCS alumni concerned about the future of the program, these alumni will not play any role in making changes to the CCS Lit major.
“CCS is fortunate in having exceptional alumni,” Tiffney said in an email. “However, while we welcome their expressions of support, the work that needs to be done to strengthen the major needs to be done by the campus.”
Bailey Loverin, a current literature student, said CCS officials and administrators have sent conflicting messages about the future of the program.
“It’s been very frustrating trying to get information on anything. We were sent email saying they froze admissions, and then one saying they unfroze it,” Loverin said.
According to Loverin, CCS Lit students are not being given adequate information about the current review process that is now in the hands of the Academic Senate.
“I’m really unhappy with the lack of transparency about how serious (or not serious) the situation is,” Loverin said. “We’re being given bits and pieces.”
A version of this story appeared on page 1 of Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.