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Monday, Sep 25, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Cost-Cutting Measures are the Reality for STEM Majors at Auburn

<p>Samford Hall perched behind the Auburn University sign in Auburn, Ala.</p>

Samford Hall perched behind the Auburn University sign in Auburn, Ala.

I believe in work, hard work. I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully. 

I do not believe in putting people in positions that they are not qualified for. I do not believe in saving money at the cost of students’ educations. 

I do not believe that Auburn is prioritizing the quality of education for the future STEM professionals that are enrolled at this institution.

I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men. Because of this, I believe that we need to speak out against this. I believe that we, the students being told that our professors teach classes that have had failing averages for years before we even enrolled here, need to push for change. 

Recently, The Plainsman published a column article about the STEM classes offered on campus. I am writing to add onto that article with personal experience. 

I have attended multiple classes that are mandatory for my major, some of them I’ve had to take more than once because of the issues with the staffing structure at the university. Auburn employs researchers as STEM professors to reduce staffing costs, without considering the idea that researchers are not teachers and without offering the proper training for them to give students the education we came here for.

Where are we supposed to put our trust if our tenured professor that came to Auburn to do research tells us that every class in every year has below average grades? Why doesn’t this spark concern with the university?

Auburn prioritizes the chance to cut staffing costs using two-in-one deals with researchers over providing the best education to its future engineers, doctors, veterinarians, nurses, agricultural managers and rocket scientists. 

Almost every single STEM professor I have had has told my classes that they came to Auburn for research. They became professors because Auburn offered a higher salary if they would do both. These professors never intended to teach, so they were never trained to be teachers. Teaching is something that has many different faces and many different methods. 

Teaching is an ever-evolving subject where the teachers learn new things from every new batch of students, whether it’s cool new slang or entirely new learning styles that their students thrive with. Teaching is a field that relies on communication skills, not testing skills.  

Researching is not a social field. Researching is a field of somewhat isolated testing of concepts with mostly other researchers to explain the data to. The thing about research is that it relies on set methods, without much need to communicate to other learning styles. Most researchers go into the same field of research as others that learn just like them, that test things just like them. 

That’s not what we, as students, came to learn from at this university. We came to learn difficult material that we expect to be challenged on. There’s a difference between challenging material and challenging learning barriers. Not providing us educators that understand the full range of what the field of education requires is a learning barrier that Auburn consistently chooses over our futures, futures that we trusted them with. 

Mick Persyn is a junior studying pre-veterinarian wildlife science. 

The opinions expressed in columns and letters represent the views and opinions of their individual authors. 

These opinions do not necessarily reflect the Auburn University student body, faculty, administration or Board of Trustees.

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