Editorial | Decision to keep English Language Institute open proves University must listen to students’ concerns


Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer

The Parkvale Building on Meyran Avenue, which houses the English Language Institute.

Pitt’s English Language Institute was set to close in June after COVID-19 caused the ELI’s enrollment to dwindle. The ELI helps international students learn English, and the University’s decision to close it received significant pushback. 

Students sent a letter to Provost Ann Cudd and Kathleen Blee, the dean of the College of General Studies, urging them to keep the ELI open. More than 1,000 people also signed a petition to keep it open as international students worried about losing their student visas.

The letter seemed to work. Senate Council President Robin Kear announced last week that the ELI will stay open at least another year until June 2024. While it’s only a minor step forward, it shows that students’ voices matter, and the University must listen. With Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and Provost Ann Cudd scheduled to leave their positions this summer — and interviews currently underway for the new dean of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences — the new administration must understand the importance of student voice in making decisions. 

While University administration doesn’t always make the right decisions, a compromise regarding the ELI shows that it does care about Pitt students’ thoughts and feelings around their decisions.

It’s also important that the new University administration understand how strong Pitt students’ voices are. It’s counterproductive to ignore them. As seen with the recent protests of “anti-trans” events on campus, students know that if their voices aren’t heard by those in power at the University, they will make them heard. 

As Pitt students, all of the University’s decisions affect us all in some way. Every student at Pitt should feel like the University is making choices to help them. If the University doesn’t, students should push back, just like they did by writing the letter and creating the petition to keep the ELI open.