TSU students: We were unfairly let go
HOUSTON While Texas Southern University is holding on to its accreditation, it has been ranked the lowest-performing pharmacy program in Texas, according to US News and World Report. Now, the school's administration is kicking students out of the program to bolster their standings and their prestige. "Our goal is just to get out," pharmacy student Andrea Anderson said. "We want to be pharmacists. That is our dream." Dozens of TSU pharmacy students shoved their way into a board of regents meeting, demanding improvements to their program and answers about why some of their classmates were kicked out of school based on a new set of guidelines in the student handbook. One major complaint: the new rules straddled one school year. "You can't hold one section of the class to a higher standard than the first section of the class," student Fred Walker said. "That's unethical." Walker is one of 11 students that got an email, telling him he can't return to school this fall because he failed four classes in one semester. "They didn't take into account the human factor," he said. "Some of us had extenuating circumstances." The same thing happened to Beatrice Tembo-Jackson, who was banking on her starting salary once she got her degree and passed the licensing exam. "I'm a mother of eight," she said. "So I have a family to feed, so I probably have to go back to work, pay back my school loans." In the last school year, TSU's College of Pharmacy adopted more specific guidelines about dismissing students. It used to be students could be kicked out for demonstrating "poor overall performance." Now, any student who receives less than a "C" in four or more classes in one semester -- or "exceeds time allowed to complete (their) degree" can get their white coat revoked. "We have raised our expectation for student performance, and there's some tension around that," TSU's College of Pharmacy Dean Barbara Hayes said. While the dean of the school says the stricter guidelines will make for a better batch of pharmacists, students, even those in good-standing, are left wondering whether better teachers and more organized classes would better prepare them to pass in the first place. "Before you consider dismissing someone, you have to first look, 'Did we as a college support this student enough to help them succeed?'" student Gwendolyn Burgess said. TSU's pharmacy school has endured a history of problems. One student told me she had 19 teachers for one class in one semester, none of which showed up for reviews, or class sometimes. She also said she just can't be expected to excel in that environment. There is also a lawsuit against the school and the dean because of these student dismissals.