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Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    SSU Criminal Justice instructor accuses Dean of overstepping her role

    Dr. Emily Asencio works for Sonoma State University as an associate professor and as an internship coordinator for the Criminal Justice Studies Department and alleges misconduct took place this semester.

    Dr. Emily Asencio works for Sonoma State University as an associate professor and as an internship coordinator for the Criminal Justice Studies Department and alleges misconduct took place this semester.

    Faculty members of the Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies department at Sonoma State have signed a statement claiming that Dr. Troi Carleton, Dean of the School of Social Sciences, has detrimentally encroached upon curricular matters within the CCJS department. 

    The letter alleges that, without consent of the department, Carleton “appointed herself as CCJS internship coordinator, opened an additional section of CCJS 499 (Class No. 4419) and assigned herself as class instructor, and changed the CS code of CCJS 499 from CS36 to CS78 to circumvent the enrollment cap under CSU and SSU policies.”

    On Feb. 5, Carleton assumed the position of CCJS internship coordinator after removing the previous internship coordinator, Dr. Emily Asencio, from the position. 

    Carleton declined to comment on the reasoning behind removing Asencio from her position, citing that the situation is a “personnel matter.”

    When asked about her reaction to having the course removed from her instruction, Asencio said that she was “shocked.”

    “The role of internship coordinator is decided by faculty in the department of CCJS and it’s not something that the Dean has, according to policies and procedures, the ability to decide,” Asencio said, “She appointed herself as the internship coordinator and then opened up a section of the course and assigned herself as the instructor, but she is not a CCJS faculty member and she hasn’t been qualified to teach this class.”

    Carleton has proceeded to instruct the CCJS 499 internship-focused course herself, while members of the CCJS department claim that she also changed the course code as a means of evading the enrollment cap.

    Classes can only accept a certain number of students in order to maintain the quality of the course. A change in a course’s CS code can change the number of students permitted to enroll in that course. If a course has more students than the curriculum was designed to accommodate, the extra burden on the professors can prevent them from providing the necessary individual support for students, among other issues, which can affect the overall performance of the class, according to Asencio and Dr. Napoleon Reyes, Chair of the CCJS Department.

    “The proper procedures for changing a class begins with faculty initiating those changes and there’s a process through which any curricular changes go through,” said Asencio, “And deans are involved with that; there is a step where the Dean reviews [the changes] and gives their approval or not. So what Dean Carleton did is just completely bypass that process and decide that she was going to unilaterally change that code, which is not only violating the process, but is disrespecting the process and the system of shared governance, which is that faculty control the curriculum.”

    Reyes is in agreement with Asencio, and said, “Most students don’t realize the impact that [overcrowded classes] have long-term on the learning conditions for all students.”

    However, Carleton denies that she has changed the course code.

    “The CS code for CCJS 499 has remained CS36. No changes were made,” Carleton said in response.

    The letter further claims that Carleton, “has been approving internship applications and allowing students to enroll in CCJS 499 without considering whether the proposed internships meet the standards set by the CCJS Department for internship placements. Students were also told that ‘projects’ would be allowed as substitute for an actual internship required under the CCJS B.A. curriculum.”

    Carleton addressed this as well, defending her decision and insisting that she considered how best to handle internship requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “The majority of internships I approved were for students who had commenced their internships applications under Dr. Asencio and were directed by her regarding placements. However, there were some graduating seniors whose internship required modification in order to comply with COVID safety protocols. For the handful of students who had not yet secured internships by the second week of the spring semester, I worked with these students to find an internship that was consistent with the types of internships that the department was approving. In two situations, internships were not possible, so students designed projects involving community engagement and CCJS disciplinary knowledge,” Carleton said.

    This incident marks the second letter of complaint filed against Carleton, the first having been submitted last Nov. by the CCJS department regarding a similar matter. The first grievance accuses Carleton of having, “unilaterally increased the enrollment cap of five classes offered by the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS) and cut by half the resources allocated to its internship program – an action that violates CSU and SSU policies and infringes on faculty rights under the CFA/CSU Collective Bargaining Agreement.”

    The statement further claims that Carleton’s actions “demonstrate a lack of concern for the impact her action will have on our students, many of whom are struggling to stay

    engaged in an educational environment that has continually increased class sizes and

    faculty workload.”

    Carleton disagrees with these accusations, stating, “My first priority is and always will be student success and the safety and well-being of our students. And I am responsible for ensuring University policies and safety protocols are followed. We are working to ensure the return of the [CCJS 499] course to CCJS.”

    Carleton also responded to the letter’s accusation that she lacks the authority to manage the Internship Coordinator position and instruct CS 499, stating that she believes she acted according to the responsibilities of her position as the Dean.

    “As Dean of the School of Social Sciences, it is my duty to ensure that students can graduate successfully in a timely fashion and to ensure the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” Carleton said.

    When asked what the CCJS department hopes to accomplish through the grievances filed, Reyes said they hope to ensure that administrators and department faculty members follow the established protocol.

    “We just want all parties to follow what the CSU and SSU policies require and to respect faculty’s control over curricular matters,” said Reyes, “And that applies to everyone. We’re trying to play by the rules…if [administrators] truly are concerned about the quality of education, then they should support faculty and departments.”

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