Opinion: CLAS' 'The College' rebrand is just a bandage on more serious issues

The administration is ignoring the problems that are present within CLAS

There's nothing clever about rebranding the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as "The College." It's far more than marketing speak or a turn of phrase. 

Rather, the name change, even informal, is a bandage that attempts to cover up the multitude of complaints that students across different majors have had about the way that the college operates and the resources it offers.

ASU President Michael Crow's announcement itself came across as a detached attempt to pander to the communities that have routinely demanded change within CLAS and have yet to receive an appropriate response.

“We take great pride in the The College’s demonstration of inclusion, access and excellence and look forward to its continued evolution as the core of ASU,” Crow wrote in the announcement. 

Inclusion of University communities is just one of the issues at hand that are being overlooked by ASU.

ASU's Tempe campus, which houses The College, is not considered a Hispanic-Serving Institution under the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and in general, black and hispanic students are statistically expected to take more remedial courses in college than their white counterparts.

Since many of these issues have come to light, Crow and Patrick Kenney, dean of The College, have not fulfilled their promises of accessibility to students or taken any tangible steps to assist with these hardships.

Alexia Isais, a freshman global studies student, said they are concerned about Michael Crow's priorities.

"He’s very willing to ignore real, very genuine concerns and continues to go on with these meaningless actions like rebranding that doesn’t do anything to address concerns from students," Isais said.

It seems that Crow and Kenney are not committed enough to their minority student base to address the factors that plague their students' abilities to thrive in an academic environment. This especially affects first-generation students, many of whom are sustaining themselves, despite the University's mission statement of accessibility.

This is evident by ASU’s decision to not have any member of their government relations team sign in or advocate against HB2523. The bill proposed by the Arizona State Legislature would allow employers to pay students below the Arizona minimum wage, simply for being students. 

ASU student workers are already exempt from the state’s minimum wage, which can make attempting to balance paying for housing and personal expenses on top of rising academic fees challenging. However, it does not seem to be an area of accessibility issues that either of these University officials are concerned about.

Read more: ASU on-campus workers exempt from Proposition 206

"The fact that that’s being largely ignored by the administration goes to show us, the student body, that the public charter that they have that they tout so proudly is not really true," Isais said.

The name change further advances the discrepancies in understanding what it means to be a liberal arts and sciences student. The decision to drop CLAS from the title undermines the importance in having individuals from different fields take the time to understand what these fields consist of and how these teachings intersect and hold a prominent role in other degree programs. 

ASU students' sentiments range from perplexed to angered, and Ian Crosby, a junior fashion major, said he was confused when he opened the email announcing the rebranding. 

"I opened up the email and thought, which college is he talking about?" Crosby said. "The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences sounds substantial but 'The College' — what is that about? It sounds like nothing. There are so many things that fall into the liberal arts and sciences and it completely reduces them to just 'The College.'" 

It is evident that the students attending the University have vastly different in priorities in comparison with ASU's executive administration. 

"I really want to see more focus toward the other majors at ASU that aren’t being massively funded right now especially in CLAS," Crosby said. "There's a lot of internship opportunities, but in terms of how finances go, there is really just not enough support there."

As a first-generation and Hispanic student myself, I understand why my classmates and community members are upset — it's not just about a new name. We are the communities that have been promised resources by both Crow and Kenney, and many of us sacrificed stability and our lives back home in order to pursue an education. 

However, we have now begun to realize that these statements and promises have been nothing more than a façade to attract us to "The College," and we are beginning to pay for the repercussions. 

Correction: Due to an error that occurred in the editing process, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the the pronoun of Alexia Isais as she instead of they. The article has been updated to reflect this change.


Reach the columnist at jguzma19@asu.edu or follow @JennyGuzmanAZ on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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