Student input in accreditation preserves University progress

Accreditation: one of the main things that keeps our departments and University administration sitting up straight and keeping tidy. Accreditation is an evaluation of a university’s ability to meet its own goals and mission. Upon gaining accreditation, that university is considered part of the approved association of universities.

With threats of accreditation loss looming over City College of San Francisco, SF State is constantly reminded of the dangers of not passing the formal process. Credibility, prestige and a huge chunk of funding are at stake. Although the chances of SF State losing its accreditation are astronomically slim, the review done by Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) takes place to evaluate SF State’s commitment to its mission and keeps the University accountable for its promises.

Unfortunately, the process in the past has failed to involve a diverse multitude of student opinion on SF State’s commitment to its own goals. In a 2011 report written by the WASC visiting team, only 21 students were interviewed on their experience, in which all gave a resounding, “Proud to be a Gator!” response to the evaluators.

Is it just us, or does that seem highly unlikely, considering that most of our student body doesn’t vote in campus elections, regularly attend school sports events or know the student newspaper (yours truly) exists?

If all 21 students did indeed declare their Gator pride, then the WASC report ignores the sentiments of the majority of SF State students. The WASC report does not explain how the 21 students were chosen, but it leads Xpress to believe the interviews were voluntary and publicized poorly.

That is why we urge you (the school-spirited you, the cynical you and everything in between) to attend the WASC accreditation open meeting March 7, so the WASC, and SF State can hear your both your concerns and commendations.

The lack of diverse student experience included in the accreditation process wasn’t the only thing alarming to Xpress. Distortions and vague descriptions of SF State’s progress were frequent.

Responses of SF State’s increased communication were highlighted by the school website’s “user-friendly navigation” and President Corrigan’s semesterly visits to the Xpress staff. If these are an accurate representation of communication at our University, then communication is disorderly and disagreeable at best.

SF State’s commitment to a LGBTQ-safe campus was tracked as “being established,” but not further explained. The Queer Resource Center, just opened in January of this year, after finding itself in a difficult two-year process for establishment. If efforts were clearly noted in accreditation reports, SF State’s progress could be aggressively pursued and accurately watched in cases like these.

We feel that if the student experience was adequately included in the WASC accreditation process; ambiguities, discrepancies and misrepresentations would not be the basis of evaluating our University and SF State would be fairly upheld to its standards.

While we receive emails and wait for Muni beside giant posters advertising a week of XLR8 investiture events, Thursday’s accreditation meeting is just as important (if not more) and should be publicized as so. We should be welcomed in celebrating a new administration, as well as criticizing its past six years of work.

It would be very discerning if this Thursday’s accreditation meeting only hosted 21 students. In 12 years, the progress of SF State should be judged by more than the experience of 42 students, half of which are documented as, “Proud to be a Gator!”

The WASC accreditation open meeting will be held on March 7, from 11:15 a.m. till 12 p.m. at Library 244.