When priority registration opened last Tuesday, I sat in my bedroom staring at my open Cyberbear tab. I needed to enroll in at least two upper division Spanish classes to stay on track for my major. But the Spanish department wasn’t offering a single upper division class I hadn’t taken, barring one 400-level course.
In fact, there were only three upper division courses total.
Frustrated, I went to my Spanish professor and asked why. I knew many of my peers in the major were in the same predicament.
If she was able to teach next year, she told me, she’d hopefully be offering two more classes.
I connected the dots in that moment. The reason so few courses were being offered next fall was because the Spanish faculty didn’t know if they would have enough instructors to offer more. I was gutted. It was the first time in my three years at UM that the budget reductions were cutting so close to home. An incredibly privileged thing to say — this is the first time I’ve had to face the cuts’ impacts — as the University has continued to shed its bud- get for the last six years in response to the enrollment crisis.
The University is asking for a $2.6 million reduction in the college’s budget, a cherry on top of the already $10.4 million the school has cut since 2015. That accounts for 68% of the University’s total budget cuts.
And in this week’s paper, we take a deeper look at the significance of what those numbers really mean; a story that features the faces behind the departments bearing the brunt of the cuts.
But I also want to use this space to say my piece. Over the last week, as I’ve watched my peers protest the budget proposals and read the news of faculty asserting that any further reductions would be unsustainable, I’ve felt a conflicting sort of emotion that I’ve finally been able to conceptualize.
I know these cuts were evaluated on a model that took into account student credit hours and CHS enrollment. I understand that it’s not the University’s personal vendetta against the humanities or sciences. But I’m still hurt and frustrated.
I’m hurt on behalf of the professors in the philosophy and history departments who are desperately holding the line. I’m frustrated on behalf of my peers in the Department of World Languages and Cultures who face limited course offerings and uncertainty.
And you know what? I get to feel that way. As do all of the students, faculty and staff affected by these cuts. The fact that they make sense on a practical model doesn’t devalue the emotion that comes with losing courses, resources and faculty positions.
I’m tired of the default argument against my hurt and frustration being: “Well, it’s just because the humanities aren’t bringing in the students like other departments.” You know what also isn’t bringing in students and supporting them for four years over the course of their studies? The Food Zoo. Yet the University recently announced its costly plans to remodel the cafeteria.
I feel unheard. And I imagine that’s how the organizers of last week’s Save the Humanities event felt, when their chalk messages were cleaned off the sidewalk only an hour after they finished their demonstration.
— Addie Slanger, Features Editor
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