Last March, 11 criminal justice majors met with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Peter Shoemaker, and the associate dean for Undergraduate Student Services and Enrollment Management to voice their concerns about issues within the criminal justice department. This year, changes within the department were implemented, as asserted by students and Interim Chairman Dr. Robert Pallitto.
“Things are going well,” Pallitto said. “I’ve enjoyed meeting a number of criminal justice students I didn’t already know, and we have some events planned for the year, including several guest speakers. We are also working to increase the number of internship opportunities for criminal justice majors.”
Francesca Bielar, a junior criminal justice major, shared her feelings about the changes made to the program so far in an email.
“I feel as though our concerns were addressed. I think the school attempted to make the department more fair by removing Athens from the chair position. However they have not made this very public and so I am not sure who the new chair is,” Bielar wrote in an email. “There has not been a public announcement to the any of the students about how the department has changed, even who our advisors are. I am not sure who we will go to when advising season comes around.”
For Bielar, the departure of several of her professors and hiring of new ones concerns her for several reasons.
“I knew there was nothing anyone could do to bring RJ and Greene back,” she wrote. “They had been insulted by the school and I don’t blame them for not wanting to continue their relationship with our students. However, now that I begin my journey into applying for Grad School/Law School, I am not sure who will write my letters of recommendation or help me on this journey. I don’t even know how many staff members there are in the department because we were not formally updated by the school so as far as I know, Athens is teaching (as I am in 2 of his classes) and Holly Manuleian is still an adjunct. Which unfortunately will not provide the same kind of letters that RJ or Dr. Greene could have written.”
“I am concerned about who will be teaching all of the classes I need in order to graduate. I am also concerned about advising and how the students will know who to go to for advising,” Bielar continued.
Alyza Roman, who graduated from the criminal justice program in 2018, reflected on her experiences as a student.
“In short, the program for me was flawed but for the most part amazing,” Roman wrote in an email. “Education gave me a new life since I relocated to the east coast from a poor little neighborhood that no one knows about in southern California. I will say, with the faculty at the time, within the first two years of the program, I learned how they taught, the rigor and expectations of their courses, and the general perspective of the content those professors taught. While in this period, I panicked because I learned that I no longer wanted to go into law enforcement and thought I was wasting my time pursuing a major I was no longer passionate about with no backup major in mind.”
Yet, Roman was able to determine what she wanted to pursue.
“However, the last two years helped settle this panic thanks to the full-time professors that taught me (three of whom are no longer teaching at SHU for various reasons, but I still keep in touch with all of them). I spent the last two years in the program gaining new perspectives and insight of the field, being granted with new project opportunities of research and travel, and of course student advocacy,” said Roman via email. “The last two years were the most important to me because my passion to help other people and how to help them, was reignited. This invigoration was thanks to all the professors who were kind and patient enough to work and listen to me and helped me in developing the needed skills to actually help others.”
Blair Goldstein, a senior who will graduate from the criminal justice Program this semester, emphasized how problematic the location of the classes is.
“We have all of our classes in the same room every day. So if someone were to have a few classes in a day, they would be in the same room all day long,” said Goldstein.
Dr. Pallitto mentioned that he and four other professors comprise the criminal justice department faculty.
“I’m Interim Chair of Criminal Justice this year. Professor Lonnie Athens is Professor of Criminal Justice. Professor Giuseppe (Joe) Fazari is the third full-time faculty member. He was hired this year. We also have two adjunct instructors teaching for us this semester: Prof. Holly Manuleian and Prof. Laurie Head-Melillo,” Pallitto explained.
Concerning the question of whether the department plans to hire more professors, Pallitto responded, “Yes, but the timetable is somewhat uncertain at this point. For one thing, we are revising the CRIM curriculum and after that is done we will be in a better position to know about future hiring.”
Regarding the progression of the program, Alyza Roman encouraged students to advocate for themselves.
“All in all, I hope for the students that remain in the Criminal Justice Program to find that same passion and rigor as I did, and I encourage them to advocate for what they want and what they feel they should get out of the program (since my and everyone else’s needs are different),” Roman said.
Kaitlyn Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.