Save CSUB Modern Languages Program

15 10 2009

CSUB is facing a difficult budget situation.  Among one of the most striking proposed cuts is the complete dismantling of the Modern Languages Program.  The Modern Language program has been under fire for years by some Administrators on campus–and although, this program commands more majors than a few other programs on campus (100 majors–compared to others with only 20 to 60 majors)–this is the program they’re targeted for termination.  The Dean of HSS met with the Chair of the Modern Languages Dept. and said he would recommend a moratorium on majors in their program–effectively, killing the program.

I, like other colleagues and community members, am wondering how you can have a comprehensive university without a languages program?  If they implement plans to terminate Modern Languages at CSUB–our campus will be the ONLY CSU without a language program (all CSUs, with the exception of the specialized Maritime College, have substantial language programs).  In fact, even CSUs located in largely white, affluent communities have a strong commitment to language programs (CSU-Monterey Bay, CSU-Sonoma, CSU-Northridge…the list goes on and on).  Yet, at CSUB where Latino undergraduate students represent the largest plurality of students on campus, and the university is nestled within a sizeable Latino community, Administrators propose to eliminate a Spanish program that is so representative of our community?

This is in direct opposition to our University’s mission statement on “excellence and diversity.”  Perhaps this proposed cut of Modern Languages is in part due to our total lack of representation on the President’s cabinet–not one Hispanic on that Administrative board to speak on our community’s behalf (we’re down to zero representation of Mexican-Americans; notably the largest plurality on campus, in this region and in the state!; and this in light of CFA stats indicating a 45% increase in administrative positions at CSUB since 2000).  At a university where our community represents most of the student body (their enrollments in fact largely FUND this campus)–this proposed cut is outrageous.  The lack of representation given us is exponentially felt because if slated cuts occur Latino/a faculty (over the next years) could well be disproportionately hit by such Administrative actions (in Modern Languages and other programs as well).  This is very troubling.

The Modern Languages and Literatures program serves as an important entry point to higher education for a vital student demographic on campus, Latina students (who now represent the largest plurality in CSUB’s student body).   This student demographic has been historically underserved and if a moratorium on language majors is implemented this group will be most disenfranchised as a result of such an Administrative action.  It can’t be underscored enough that the Modern Languages and Literature program is unique in exemplifying through its curriculum, and more so than any other program on campus, the diversity of our student population and that of the local region (which remains the most significant contributor to campus enrollments).  It took decades to build this program within a community that has long struggled to secure access to curricular representation on this campus.

Cutting this program is tantamount to cutting curriculum in Women Studies, African American Studies and Asian American studies—because it would in fact terminate Spanish language and literatures and Chicano Studies on this campus.  How is the goal of promoting excellence and diversity served if the educational needs of single largest plurality, Hispanic students, at CSUB are dismissed by Administrators?  The potential to irrevocably harm the educational interests of Hispanic students and the local Hispanic community demands serious considerations.

In this multicultural era, it is unimaginable that Hispanic educational needs (proposed cut of culturally meaningful curriculum–the Spanish program and Chicano Studies) are being challenged at CSUB—when no such challenge exists at other CSU campuses.  Even CSUs serving affluent white communities have attempted to better represent Hispanic population interests (particularly since they’re now the largest minority group in America), yet Administrators on this campus plan to terminate this language program?

The mission of “excellence and diversity” must be seen in actions—not words.  Diversity means action, not rhetoric.  And any actions taken by the present Administration to undercut the curriculum delivery needs of Hispanics on campus will have longstanding negative consequences for this ethnic minority and for all students that are left without access to language programs that prepare them for participation in a culturally diverse society (a point well recognized by other CSUs as evidenced by their commitment to comprehensive language programs).

Please express your solidarity with the Modern Languages Program by attending the “Informational Meeting” that Jose Reyna has scheduled on Thursday, October 15, 2009 @ 7:30pm–YES it’s on FURLOUGH DAY (this way the meeting will not interfere with class time for students in the ML program).  Invite others to join us as well–all are welcome to attend this informational discussion…our colleagues on and off campus.

And/or send an email message directly to Pres. Mitchell to express your concerns about this proposed cut and ask him to NOT APPROVE THE MORATORIUM ON MODERN LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES MAJORS that would terminate this program:

CSU’s throughout the state are scheduling action days to challenge proposed budget cuts (…it’s correct to challenge our Administrators to find alternatives to such drastic measures that as history indicates, if implemented are irreversible.  To borrow a phrase being used by another CSU campus, “It took 40 years to build and 4 months to destroy.”  We can’t afford not to act in solidarity…we may not have much of a university left.

For more information on the problems we’re facing at CSUB, see the Californian’s recent article on Administrative Growth and Faculty Reductions:

United We Stand,




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