Thursday, September 23, 2010
THE. HILLTOP . TheHilltopOnline.com
The Student Voice of Howard University
Convocation Day Gets Mixed Views by Saraya Wintersmith Contributing Writer Tomorrow is Convocation day, the official opening of the academic year. Morning classes will be cancelled to allow students to hear neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson’s address. The convocation will begin at 11:00 a.m. But, like many other students, Bianca St. Louis plans to catch up on sleep and homework, then study for an afternoon test. Louis says Convocation doesn’t mean much to her. Neither does it have much significance to the majority of Howard students. “When I did go, it was just an assignment for business orientation,” said St. Louis. “I went with my team and probably had to write something about it, but I didn’t go to any other convocations after that.” The 20 year old international business major could recall only a few positive details about the event in 2008 when President Sidney A. Ribeau introduced himself to the university. “The ceremony was long, and not very engaging,” Louis said. “The impact of the speech didn’t leave a lasting impression for me,
and I still don’t know why we even have this function on our campus.” Such is the familiar story of a student who feels that Convocation is not particularly relevant to her student experience. And without a compelling reason to wrench her from bed on a class-free day, she has grown apathetic about observing the ceremony. Special Assistant to the president, Valerie Turner, organized a student focus group that recorded opinions about various campus-life activities in 2009. The students suggested making freshmen understand the importance of the ceremony. They also recommended more upbeat music, better advertisement, and instituting a university rule allowing professors to give extra credit for writing about Convocation. Turner believes it is positive that student opinions were noted. Meanwhile, St. Louis is still looking for an adequate explanation of the purpose of Convocation to excite her enthusiasm for it. “I think if we knew the purpose and reasons why we have this event every year, we would start to understand its value,” said St. Louis. CONVOCATION continued on p.2
Conference Briefs Students on Legal Careers
Ryan C. Hamilton Staff Photographer Students meet with recruiters Wednesday from more than 40 of the nation’s law schools at the annual Mid-Atlantic Pre-Law Conference at the Blackburn Center, including representatives from Florida Gulf Coast University, University of Tampa and Florida Southern College. Find more photos on p.4
African Studies Threatened by Merger Proposal by Michael Tomlin-Crutchfield Staff Writer
Photo Courtesy of Elective Decisions Neurosurgeon Ben Carson will be delivering this year’s convocation speech.
INSIDE Put it on Blast
Students express frustrations about financial aid and validation.
Splurge in the City
Howard students finds lots of ways to spend money they don’t always have. p.7
Vol. 94 No. 11
Howard University is known the world over as the Mecca of intellectual black thought. To truly master the thought of a people, one must know their history and the university did not always have that on it’s agenda. The African studies department at Howard was non-existent before a push from it’s student body in the early 1950s. After the department was established for undergraduates in 1953, campuses across the country began looking into developing their own methods of educating students on the African Diaspora and its impact on the planet. However, 57 years later, the department that was created through the administration meeting student demands, is faced with a new threat to it’s future. The Presidential Committee on Academic Renewal has made it a priority to review several university programs and better develop them to serve students. In efforts to do that, it has been recommended that the African studies department merge with
Howard v. Morgan
Howard competes against Morgan State in New York Urban League football classic. p.15
other areas of international studies, into an international comparative and area studies program. The department that has been in the top five for producing Ph.D.s at Howard over the last 20 years is not excited about this recommendation.
“The university decided it was best to merge the program because of low enrollment in majors in the undergraduate division.” - Mbye Cham, Ph.D. Chair of African Studies Mbye Cham, Ph.D., the chair of African Studies, believes that department is necessary and should standalone. “The university decided it was best to merge the program because of low enrollment in majors in the undergraduate division,” said Cham. “We currently have 11 students enrolled as majors in African studies, but have 50 students in the masters and Ph.D. programs.”
NEWS....................... p.3 OPINIONS............... p.10 MECCANISMS.......... p.12 SPORTS.................... p.14
Cham believes that the historical presence that the university has added to the field of study should be enough to keep it a Baccalaureate of the Arts. “Howard has been a leader in research and development of African studies since it established the department in the 1950s and has continued to play a role in the studies since,” said Cham. “Even though we have low enrollment, 95 percent of our majors are in the honors program and we had two Robert McNair scholars. What we lack in quantity we make up for in quality and that is very important.” The African studies program has produced some dynamic individuals in the last couple of years that have already made an impact of the Diaspora. “Robin Pilley is working as the advisor to the President of Liberia, Africa’s first female president; that is extremely significant and she recently graduated in 2007, I believe. We also had a student, Brittany Anderson, who is currently stationed in the US Embassy in Kingston, JaSTUDIES continued on p.2
WEATHER Today High: 89 Low: 69
Tomorrow High: 92 Low: 68