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Mass Comm changes should involve mass input

There were a couple of things that could have been conceived as exciting new changes when Dean Eric Eisenberg emailed the students in the School of Mass Communications over spring break.

Perhaps the email could have announced the hiring of new professors that had to audition for many mass communications students in the previous weeks. Or it could have been the introduction of future multimedia courses to be offered in order to keep up with the ever-changing journalism field.

Either of those options would have been better news to mass communications students than finding out that Eisenberg, USF President Judy Genshaft and Provost Ralph Wilcox decided not to pursue efforts to keep accreditation. Those three held the fate of the schools accreditation, not the students and faculty in the program.

During orientation, the fact that the school was accredited was imbedded into the students brains over and over again and how wonderful and beneficial the fact will be when looking for employment in the future.

Even a week before the site team visited, students in the school received emails telling them about the importance of accreditation and its bearing on a degree.

In contrast, in the email Eisenberg said These changes will NOT have a negative impact on you, the quality of your degree or your employability in the marketplace.

Shouldnt the students have a say on whether the education they pay for maintains the quality the school advertised while those same students were enrolling?

Eisenberg said only 25 percent of journalism and mass communications programs nationally are accredited through the Accrediting Council on Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC). But being ACEJMC-accredited is one of the things that make the 25 percent stand out.

Having the ACEJMC accreditation assures future hirers that not only did the students receive a college education, but that the education was also held up to certain field standards.

One thing Eisenberg failed to share in his email was that though the Tampa campus may be giving up their accreditation, the School of Mass Communication at USF St. Petersburg is keeping theirs. St. Pete was accredited in 2010 and will not be up for re-accreditation until 2016.

St. Pete students are paying the same price for their education as Tampa students, yet those students will be allowed to mention on their resume that they graduated from an accredited school.

Meanwhile, Tampa students can proudly claim that they were part of a trial experiment to see if bringing two different schools closer together, that of mass communications and the School of Information, at the expense of accreditation, would be a successful fit.

The email also did not mention what specific changes this means for the students or what type of education they will now be paying for.

Having the school accountable to a separate entity ensures the quality of the students education. It is only a plus for the students. It creates more funding for the school, better educators, a high standard of education and holds administration accountable for the decisions they make. It is quality control, plain and simple.

Undergraduates are not the only students affected by the change. Graduate students will now be paying even more for a higher
unaccredited education.

The bottom line is, the students applied to and are paying for an accredited education. If Eisenberg, Genshaft and Wilcox create a new way to educate the students, students should have a say in the education they will receive.

For those mass communication students who wish to continue their education in graduate school, the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida is still accredited, and are always on Top 10 lists.