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141st Editorial Board:

When I originally read your open letter to Professor Rosen-Metsch, the new Dean of the School of General Studies, I was pleased with the letter in both tone and content. I was so pleased that I, upon the request of another General Studies alum, decided to learn more about the 141st editorial board. Surely—I expected with excitement—I would find that there was more than one student from the School of General Studies, given the strong tone of support. Instead I found that the editorial board format was abandoned and replaced in 2016 with a pseudo editorial board, which is actually the managing board. What I also found was that no General Studies student currently occupies any position on the managing board.

In the old format of the editorial board, members were chosen every semester from students who did not need to be current staff members at Spectator. This encouraged the inclusion of a wide array of backgrounds and experiences. As was previously written by a group of past editorial board members, this was a good system, if not a necessary one. It provided diversity in opinion and allowed Spectator to more flexibly branch out into the Columbia community for student input. Without this, the new format of editorial board risks a naïvete that undermines your credibility, even when your opinions are seemingly positive.

While the Rosen-Metsch editorial is appreciated—it is complimentary and supportive of the General Studies student body in words and gives open support to our new dean—its contents ring hollow without more direct input from General Studies students. Without said input, your current managing board has already been ensnared by the same problems you hint could be troublesome for the new dean. You suggest that Dean Rosen-Metsch may encounter problems if she doesn’t maximize upon the eccentricity of the school, which is an ironic point to be made by Spectator.

As I’m sure you are well aware, Columbia Daily Spectator has long been a publication overwhelmingly composed of Columbia College, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Barnard students. By changing the format of your editorial board, you are failing to provide yourselves with the opportunity to recruit more General Studies students into the process of speaking for the entire Columbia community. This continues to exclude the General Studies student body from contributing to or creating important dialogue.

In this respect, I have a firsthand account. For the 2014 academic year, I was invited to apply for a position on the editorial board to address this very problem. While I wouldn’t have normally sought a position on the editorial board, the editorial page editor made a specific effort to seek out General Studies students and encourage their applications. I appreciated that effort and took the offer; as a result, we were able to address multiple issues primarily exclusive to General Studies students that wouldn’t have been addressed otherwise.

The transition to a new editorial board format was explained by the 2016 managing board, but the explanation falls flat. I believe the Spectator editorial board shouldn’t be seen as a way to materialize the internal voice of the Spectator, but instead the cumulative voice of the community using the publication as a medium. I encourage you to revive the old format of the editorial board, which has long been one of the few positions at the Spectator in which General Studies students can more easily participate. Without providing these kinds of opportunities, you are continuing to perpetuate the common error of paying lip service to the General Studies community. We appreciate your positive sentiments, but the students of General Studies would much rather have your collaboration. Please bring back the editorial board and do better to recruit students from the School of General Studies.

The author graduated from the School of General Studies in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. He was a member of Spectator’s editorial board during the academic year of 2014-15.

To respond to this letter, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

General Studies Dean Rosen-Metsch editorial board
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