Before I begin this, I want to share why the consideration of cuts to be made to the language department matters to me. I am a sophomore who has declared three majors and one minor. My majors are International Studies: Diplomacy concentration; Russian Language Self-Designed Major and Russian/Central Eurasian Studies (RCEP).
The proposed cuts to be made to the language department are: the removal of tenured line eliminations in French, Russian and Japanese, as well as the removal of two visiting Spanish professors; the discontinuance of the majors for Spanish, German and French. It would also indlude the discontinuance of the minors for Russian and French; and the discontinuance of Japanese instruction. As a result of the cuts for Russian and Japanese, this will lead to the discontinuance of RCEP and East Asian Studies (EAS).
One of Wittenberg’s values is global citizenship. I attended an International Baccalaureate (IB) high school, which required students to complete a Personal Project. The Personal Project required the freshmen and sophomores to focus on a global context and create a product or complete a service which will aid the community. Because global context was a value of the program in which I was enrolled in high school, I connect it to global citizenship and Wittenberg’s value.
In order to be a good global citizen, one needs to know another language. I am a firm believer in the ideology that monolingualism is the illiteracy of the 21st Century. Simply put, this means that a person who only speaks one language — regardless of the language — is at a distinct disadvantage in the global community. I am multilingual, something on which I pride myself, as it has taken years of studying various languages to be able to claim this. I speak English, Spanish, some French and I am currently in my second year of Russian instruction.
Though I have already declared my majors in the Russian language and in RCEP, and thus they cannot be cut before my graduation, I believe that this will place the university at a disadvantage. I am aware that I am not the only student to believe this. The Educational Policies Committee (EPC) held a forum in Bailey auditorium on Tuesday, October 29 at which many students were present. Not only students, but alumni and professors were present in addition to Provost Michelle Mattson.
I chose Wittenberg through using two explicit criteria: the presence of a Russian program and the ability to accept all of my IB credits. Wittenberg fit both criteria, as well as my less important criterion of being a small community-based school. But to think that Wittenberg may cut my language of choice and major, it shows me that Wittenberg will no longer be the school that I chose when I graduate.
“We talk about global citizenship, but we’re becoming more introverted instead of embracing global citizenship,” Steven Johnson (’21), one of the Chinese tutors, said.
Many students, faculty, and alumni who were present at the forum talked about how important languages are and what they mean to Wittenberg as a German institution. The possible removal of all language majors, including German, limits possibilities for students, including — but not limited to — studying abroad in Germany, Costa Rica or anywhere in Africa.
There is still a chance for French and Russian to be taught, but they would be taught by adjuncts should the proposal by the EPC go through. Having adjunct professors instructing a language, means there is no guarantee of the language being properly taught to students. I am not criticizing the teaching ability of adjuncts in any way, but I understand that adjunct professors are paid at a considerably lower rate than full time professors are and have schedules filled with classes at multiple institutions. Therefore, they are less likely to motivate the class.
To those of you who attended the EPC’s forum or sent a letter to the EPC: thank you, your presence and/or words were appreciated. Feel free to email Associate Professor of Theater and Dance, Patrick Reynolds, with a letter of support for any department that you see having a chance of being cut to which you have a connection. The EPC will read all letters they receive, so show your support. If Wittenberg makes these proposed cuts, it will no longer be the school that we chose when we first arrived on campus.