Decreasing psychology majors and increasing tensions

Derek Pufahl

The number of Wayne State College students pursuing a major in psychology has dropped by 20 percent since the beginning of the 2015 fall semester.


According to Dr. Gloria Lawrence, the chair of the sociology and psychology department, the number of students has gone down from 100 at the beginning of the semester to 80 as of November.


Lawrence wished not to speculate as to the reason for the drop in psychology major student numbers, although some campus community members guess that this could be in connection with the absence of Dr. Karen Walker, a psychology professor.


Walker was dismissed from her teaching position on Oct. 6 and is currently in the process of appeal.


On Oct. 8, Walker requested a hearing regarding the dismissal, which will be conducted by an advisory committee made up of four tenured faculty members, two chosen by the WSC president and two chosen by Walker.


In a dismissal hearing, the advisory committee is to admit and consider evidence submitted by the president and the dismissed faculty member in the form of documents, audio or video record, or the testimony of witnesses.


According to the contract, the hearing must take place within 30 business days after this request. As of today (Dec. 2), it has been 36 business days since Walker’s request.


President Marysz Rames said she is not at liberty to provide any details in the matter, but that the college is following the protocol that is laid out in the SCEA Union Agreement.


Walker’s husband and political science professor, Dr. Mark Leeper, said that the SCEA contract is not very precise in this area.


Leeper said that, according to the contract, “faculty members can be dismissed for ‘insubordination’ and ‘unprofessional behavior.’ These are vague terms that empower administrators to discipline virtually any faculty they choose for any reason or no reason at all.”


“The dismissal process is equally problematic, with parts of it seemingly unenforceable,” Leeper said. “There seems to be fundamental disagreement over such terms as ‘30 business days’ and how the rules of the hearing are to be established. The lengthy nature of this process has been difficult for many involved, including psychology majors and affected faculty and my family.”