How the CoE sacrificed student opportunities for private agendas
One of the new club rooms given to Engineering students in EN4
Story by Wesley Young Contributor, Photos by Nathan Zankich
In the brief time the semester has been in progress, there has been a silent battle for resources that has left Engineering students struggling.
This precious resource is space—space for the brilliant minds of the Engineering student body to expand. In the College of Engineering (CoE), many student clubs and organizations had the space they’d been occupying taken from them and given away for yet-to-be-known reasons.
Some organizations like California Launch Vehicle Education Initiative (CALVEIN) and Experimental Sounding Rocket Association (ESRA) were given two-weeks notice to clear out with complete disregard for critical delays that would be caused to year-long projects.
The honor society, Pi Tau Sigma, returned from summer vacation to find they’d been locked out of their room and denied access to their own belongings. Even the study rooms in the CoE were taken away, dealing another blow to student productivity.
The students and faculty who were directly affected weren’t consulted, and had no say in the matter. No official word from the CoE led to many unanswered questions, the concealed details of which are still coming to light .
When notification was finally given by Dr. Rahai, the associate dean overseeing the room changes, it left the students feeling wronged. The first of many excuses offered was that these clubs were not successful enough to justify their space.
Every student at this university should recognize that “success” is a word that they alone choose the meaning of when it comes to their education. It is a claim the CoE has no right to make when these clubs reach dozens of students who work endless nights and sacrifice every holiday vacation to do things like build and design rockets. The rocket program alone has offered invaluable growth and experience to those students that put them in the air.
Broken pieces of equipment, boxes, and papers littered the room
Take Students of Automotive Engineering (SAE), a crew of students that builds their own mini bajas and formula racecars on an embarrassingly strained budget compared to their competitors. They determined themselves to be successful the moment they pursued their education beyond the confines of the classroom.
It was students on this very campus that flew the first LOX/Methane rocket engine, an engine that is said will be the key to traveling to Mars, a very impressive achievement. Why then are these unique, successful opportunities for students among the first to be sacrificed?
This scarcity of space stems from the CoE trying to expand within its finite limits. Enrollment and faculty are constantly increasing and there are even plans to start a new Biomedical Engineering department.
Yet, student organizations are being consolidated by the college, and administration deemed it fit to allocate space to Boeing under a new contract.
What is known about this unannounced deal is that more than six rooms will be given to Boeing in exchange for some $500,000 in yearly research grants.
That is the price that the school has put on the limitless knowledge, collaboration, and pride of students in organizations.
Many of the faculty could not even give information on the scope of this contract as they were never informed or consulted by the CoE Dean, Dr. Golshani, before the deal was made.
It is possible that this will benefit a select amount of students, but no earlier than next summer. So if the school has this limited resource, why is it making these sly deals to trade valuable space now? As a CSU, one would think there would be more of an emphasis on providing opportunities to students and less of a priority given to research contracts.
I went to look at a new club room that that the CoE gave to the students. It was a windowless, leaky storage shack in EN4. In one corner of the room, there was a dead opossum. This is not what you should be paying for when it comes to your education.
It should be more than some of the half-assed lectures you get. These opportunities are our right and the benefit of hands-on work is something often overlooked by the CoE.
What’s seen here is not a first and it won’t be the last. The legacy being written right now will not be about how student life was bettered or how fulflling their experiences were. It will only be a legacy of increased revenue.
What was discovered is hard to describe, and eerie in nature. Subjectively, it seems that the CoE has bred an environment where non-tenured faculty are afraid to voice their concerns about decisions that get made. Faculty email chains raise concern that the campus administration is unwilling to listen, instead siding with those higher in power to suppress issues.
So now it has fallen on us, the students, to speak. But will we even be heard?
Students shouldn’t be told that the concerns they raise are too trivial. By not consulting us, uninformed decisions were made that marked the end of an innovative and developmental period in the college.
I really hate when I tell people where I go and they say, “I hear Long Beach has a good engineering program.” I have to say no, because of the stuff like this that goes on.
While the decline in student success won’t be plotted on a neat color-coded engineering graph, it will be experienced by every incoming student if this continues to be the trend in the CoE.