The Department of Psychology
FROM THE FORMER CHAIR
Dr. Michael Wapner
I am very pleased to welcome back our departmental newsletter. Nine years ago, when I became Chair, establishing the newsletter was one of the first things I undertook. The actual labor of publishing the paper was then, as it is now, performed by students. But it requires the support of, and sometimes a little push by the department Chair. Professor Roffe, our new Chair is to be congratulated for seeing the importance of this newsletter and encouraging its return.
I'll return in a moment to the newsletter and to the great service it can perform for the department, but first I want to welcome Mike Roffe to the Chair and wish him well, both for his sake and the sake of the rest of us. Although the job has its headaches, it is a great opportunity to influence how both students and faculty experience the University. I am honored to have had that opportunity. It's easy to lose perspective in the middle of all the details and I'm amazed at how much clearer I am now, about how the job should be done, than I was when it was mine to do. On the other hand, I admit to considerable relief that it's not mine anymore. I will just thank the students and colleagues who helped make being chair such a positive experience for me, and go back to my main topic, this newsletter.
One of the great deficiencies which this department suffers is the lack of valid, timely and accessible information about issues of importance to students. I've made a list of the things which are either essential, or very useful to the students, which too many students simply don't know about until it's too late. This newsletter can provide a monumental service by informing students about these issues.
Too many students don't know:
Announcements of articles informing students regarding the above, will be of immense service. It is one of the pressing needs of the department. I realize of course, that this newsletter will not solve the entire problem of uninformed students. Part of that problem comes from students who are simply not sufficiently involved in their own education. Articles have to be read to inform. But for the majority of our students, the service will be considerable.
There is another contribution this newsletter can make. Students can inform faculty. As well intentioned as the faculty is, and we are mostly well-intentioned, inefficiencies, and even injustices in our program and its administration still occur. Some of these involve individuals and should be dealt with individually. But many are systemic and affect large numbers of students. Changes can be made. What is needed is interest, involvement and communication. The complaints and ideas for improvement don't have much impact if they are limited to "bull sessions." But if students will take interest and responsibility by putting these ideas and complaints in the newsletter, in the form of letters and articles, then they can at least get a hearing from the department, as well as recruit additional comment and support. The powerlessness that many students feel toward the conditions of their education is largely self-perpetuating and avoidable. It is also often shared by the faculty. Either more effective communication, which this newsletter can provide, will help solve the problem, or a lot of what we teach here is untrue.
I wish those ambitious and energetic students who are undertaking the publication of this newsletter good luck and urge the rest of the students and faculty in the department to participate for our common betterment.