Students rally against possible dissolution of campus College of Chemistry on Friday

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Simon Greenhill/Staff

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More than 60 students congregated in front of Sproul Hall in the rain Friday to rally against the previously announced suspension of undergraduate admissions to the public health major and the possible dissolution of the campus College of Chemistry.

The School of Public Health, which had initially suspended admissions to the major in light of the campus’s structural deficit, announced Friday morning that it will reopen undergraduate admissions to the undergraduate major amid robust opposition to the decision.

“It’s just so unfair, that students can work for two years to get in a major then have their backs against the wall and not be able to join,” said campus sophomore Pranay Chaurasia, who intends to apply to the public health major, at the rally.

Nonetheless, many of the rally’s speakers — composed of concerned undergraduates, masters students, student leaders and a professor — wanted to address the long-term future of the public health major.

“They extended it but it’s not just about us, it’s about (the) years to occur,” Chaurasia said at the rally.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele said at the rally that the administration is dedicated to maintaining the excellence provided by such programs. Yet he noted that because of insufficient state funding to the university, the campus must be realistic about cost-saving changes. The School of Public Health guarantees the continuing existence of the public health major until 2020.

“We want you to know we (the administration) are accessible. … This is a considerable opportunity for students to put input,” Steele said at the rally. “We serve your interests, that’s what the university is about.”

According to Steele, the administration will not dismantle the two departments within the College of Chemistry, the department of chemistry and the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering. The current issue, he said, centers on whether the two schools are better served integrated into the campus College of Letters and Science and College of Engineering, respectively.

“I know that no decisions have been made yet … everything is proposed (at this time), but we want to be proactive and show that we care about these programs,” said Kendall Lee, a prospective public health major who was one of the the initial organizers of the rally.

The College of Chemistry is considered one of the best in the world and is behind academic achievements including the discovery of various chemical elements and the Calvin cycle, according to campus senior Ka Hong Chan.

Lauren Harris, a campus sophomore and intended public health major, said that although she is happy that the campus reinstated admissions to the major, she is concerned about the willingness with which it was closed and the internal instability it displays.

“Are we getting so desperate that we can’t find money anywhere else to cut,” said prospective public health major and campus freshman Jane Phan. “I don’t know why they’d resort to this.”

The School of Public Health will hold a forum to discuss the future of the public health major Tuesday.

Contact Alok Narahari at [email protected].