Some 40 mass communication students met with meet with Dean John de Castro last Wednesday to voice their concerns about the department and its future.
De Castro recently took over as Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which Mass Communications is a part of. Some 600 students make up the department, which includes broadcast and print journalism, public relations, broadcast production and media sales and management.
Saying he was unaware of many of the problems that students in the department were concerned about, de Castro began the meeting by commending the students for voicing their frustrations about their department.
“I’m really glad to see you’re involved and being active and really caring about your department and its future,” said de Castro. “I’m responsible for the future and am very much focused on it.”
Many students – almost all focusing on radio/TV studies — were not reluctant to share their views.
“I attended this meeting because I have serious concerns about the direction of the department,” said Scott Packard, a junior mass communications major. “We have professors who lack knowledge in their field, a chair who is aware of this and will not act on it and an administration that seems to be out-of-touch with the situation.”
A point brought up several times was that students felt that they were not getting adequate hands-on training in radio and television production. Since the spring of ’06, lab times were integrated with lecture time, and many students say this diminishes actual time to concentrate on hands on production.
Many students said the reason they chose to attend Sam Houston was because the early hands-on training they believed they would receive.
The chair of the department, Dr. Janet Bridges, did not attend the meeting at the student’s request. She did however comment on the meeting.
“I think [the meeting] was a great idea,” said Bridges. It gives us a chance to see where the problems are and correct misinformation.”
Other matters discussed included the fate of the radio and television stations.
“Some of the remarks that [I’ve had] from students is the worry that the radio and TV station are going away,” said de Castro. “That’s absolutely not true. There has been no discussion whatsoever among anybody to make that happen.”
Also brought up was the dissatisfaction with many professors, who some students said lacked qualifications to teach their respective classes.
The lack of advisement for schedules from the SAM Center and the department chair also concerned students. De Castro said there have been some major advisement problems and everyone is aware of the problem; however he thought all matters were taken care of.
Some student’s thought the meeting seemed a first step in addressing their complaints. But others said they thought nothing was accomplished.
“I don’t think he sees the big picture,” said senior radio and television major Karla Lara. “He doesn’t know where we are coming from as he is not there to oversee what’s going on.”
One student compared the current situation of the department to a tree.
Junior mass communications major Nikoletta Hunt said, “It’s like a tree. You have to start from the soil and our soil has maggots. In order to grow, we need help!”