Administration decision to close Costa Rica Center lacks student input

by Niko Aberle

The Costa Rica Center (CRC) semester program will be suspended next year. As a critic of the decision, I will have to live with that. Like my own concerns, I imagine many of the issues CRC supporters raised received at least a partial response in President Beck Taylor’s Feb. 28 announcement regarding the CRC. In any case, the manner in which the administration decided to suspend the CRC semester program represents a deficiency in sufficient process.

Let me qualify my perspective. I haven’t been on campus since the end of fall semester, I’m currently studying abroad on the CRC-linked Central American Service Program in Nicaragua. My desire to be honest in this respect reflects my desire to acknowledge that I have had somewhat of a limited perspective.

Nonetheless, I assert that there has been an incongruence between the administration’s approach and process and their rhetoric that this was an important, difficult decision which involved much input. The decision was shrouded to everyone outside the University Council until Feb. 13, at which point faculty and staff were notified. ASWU was notified Feb. 14. Few students knew about the proposed suspension until it was effectively promulgated to students at the public ASWU meeting Feb. 19.

The decision was finalized on Feb. 28. That is a span of nine days. As busy students, it should be clear this is not sufficient time to hear our voices in the process. As far as I know, there were no other formal gatherings to allow students to make their opinions heard, excluding the Feb. 19 ASWU meeting. While for practical reasons this cannot always be the case, it should be the right of tuition-paying students to know where their money is going, and to be afforded a space to contribute to financial decisions when it regards a much-loved student program. Whether you think the decision for suspension is wise or not, you may agree with me that this does not reflect a particularly strong effort on the part of the administration to convey the message widely nor hear student concerns.

The way the administration used the financial statistics for the CRC was not clear until Feb. 28, the same day the decision was finalized. Students were not aware of alternatively-proposed savings until that time. Students were never given any “say-so” in keeping the CRC open on limited capacities. The administration made that decision for us. Apparently, they knew our opinions better than we did.

It should be clear to everyone by now that the decision to suspend the CRC was a largely internal affair. I’m not sure why it had to be. This is my preeminent lament.

Generally, the administration is overwhelmingly responsive to student concerns. I am also grateful to the administration for the construction of a task force which will make a decision about the CRC’s future. I hope that going forward we see a more open, clear and democratic discussion about the CRC.

Contact Niko Aberle at

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