On Wednesday, UAlbany students opposing the impending foreign language cuts rallied again to protest the administration’s decision. Interestingly, the MLA’s annual survey found that foreign language enrollment in universities actually increased rather than decreased since 2006!
Here’s the article from the Timesunion.com, December 8, 2010:
University at Albany students held another rally on Wednesday against the school’s proposed cuts to the humanities, the same day a national study showing an increased enrollment in foreign language majors was released.
“It’s gratifying to see that so many U.S. students recognize the importance of language study for our future,” MLA Executive Director Rosemary Feal said. “The demand for an ever-greater range of languages demonstrates the vitality of the field. Despite troubling cutbacks in language offerings at some institutions, this report shows that overall interest in language study remains strong at U.S. colleges and universities.”
All the languages whose majors are now on the chopping block at UAlbany saw increases in enrollment, according to the report: French grew by 4.8 percent; Italian by 3 percent; and Russian by 8.2 percent. (At UAlbany, students will still be able to take courses in those languages, even though they will not be able to major in them.)
The number of students majoring in Arabic grew by a whopping 46.3 percent and Chinese by 18.2 percent, according to the survey.
UAlbany President George Philip has stated repeatedly that the cuts were necessary to offset a $33.5 million reduction in state funding in the last two years. Declining enrollment was among the reasons he gave for the elimination of the selected majors, which also include classics and theater. Philip cited a 2006 MLA study, which found that language enrollments beyond the introductory level drop off dramatically.
At Wednesday’s protest, more than 150 campus community members were scheduled to put together a list of public priorities and demands that will be delivered to Philip, according to organizer and UAlbany student Melissa Jeffers. The group plans to give the school 50 days to meet their demands before they “escalate” their public campaign, she said. Jeffers did not reveal what that escalation would entail.